The value of community involvement

I’m reading through the detail of Southwark Council’s new Tree Strategy. They’re determined to do better, and while there are still some significant oversights – the maintenance and inspection regime is too infrequent – they now recognise the value of community involvement. This is where the Pimp Your Pavement approach intends to help and really needs to so the weakness in the official maintenance regime can be overcome.

Here’s the quote:
4.5 Community involvement – Community involvement has the potential to provide additional resources for tree management and maintenance. Past planting projects in Southwark have demonstrated that, when local residents are involved in planting and maintenance, new planting have a better survival rate, are less likely to be vandalised and give a sense of ownership to the local community.
Read the full document here:

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Pimp Your Pavement Walking Tour 20 June

As part of the London Festival of Architecture I’ll be leading a 90 minute walking tour around the numerous pimped pavements (and beyond) of Southwark, most of which are guerrilla gardens. We start in the centre of the Elephant & Castle North Roundabout at 3pm this Sunday, 20 June. Details and tickets available at the LFA website.

The event is one of Jonathan Glancey’s top picks of the festival for The Guardian. Read more here.

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The beauty of tree cages

Tree Cage Pimped

Young trees are often caged in a wire fence, which is all very sensible (as long as the cage is removed when the tree gets bigger and isn’t left to pierce into the trunk) but also quite ugly. Beyond ugly, it’s such a missed opportunity for a gentle climber. And so I’ve been experimenting with Sweet Peas and Morning Glory. So far the Sweet Peas are doing best, and have also proved remarkably low maintenance too. You can enjoy these in Princess Street outside the surgery

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The Gardens of You Me Bum Bum Train’s

When You Me Bum Bum Train got in touch I thought they might be confused about what kind of pimping I offered. But they weren’t. They needed help transforming two very miserable old flower beds outside a derelict council office in Tower Hamlets in preparation for their big show in July. They had a budget for plants, they even had permission to do it, they just needed manpower and skill… so I sought help from London guerrilla gardeners who were up for doing something legal for once, and over two consecutive Sunday afternoon’s we transformed the dandelion fields into the most formal beds I’ve ever got my fingers into: hummocks of soil crowned with New Guinnea Busy Lizzies and surrounded by rings of white, pink and purple petunias.

Pavement pimping in progress on Cambridge Heath Road

The grand gardens poised to bloom (come back in July!)

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Stoke Newington’s Ladies That Pimp

I gave a talk at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival this morning about guerrilla gardening and my Pimp Your Pavement project. And afterwards a delighted woman called Chris told me about her street nearby where several residents have been planting up the tree pits in the pavements on both sides of their Victorian terraces. It all started with one lady doing the couple nearest her home and has now spread to about seven tree pits… with plenty more opportunity for others to adopt some too.

Stoke Newington Pimped Pavement

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Big Lunch gathers pace

I’m planning another Big Lunch this year, and pimping the pavements in preparation. Out there this evening I bumped into Becki, a stranger, but actually a neighbour of 12 months. It turns out she’s a community youth leader too. So what a perfect random meeting, because she’s keen to get involved in the Big Lunch on Princess Street and even has access to the Salvation Army Hall kitchen at the end of the street.

Becki in Princess Street

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I’m spotting more pimped pavements around London, tentative little seasonal plantings of bright bedding. These are encouraging signs, simple steps towards something more spectacular. Here’s one in a traditional tree pit on Kings Cross Road, and another on Cold Harbour Lane that proves there’s always a place to pimp if you look hard enough!

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