Guerilla gardening is like every other kind of gardening I know–there is no end, it just keeps going on and on. Except that the garden is a lot bigger! This morning (mid April), my friend and I went out to our shared project, a spot we have been sheet mulching for some time because there are many square metres of it and it is charitable to say it’s weedy–it’s quite exciting to see weeds have started to sprout there because it means that something else could grow. But nothing other than weeds has been growing there in many years, and sometimes not even that.
We began with my cardboard stash, and added onto what we have previously done (my friend has added some to our shared efforts without me!) on top of that, our first few sacks of leaves from the nearby car park where E Leucoxylon is in full bloom, and the late dry heat of summer and autumn has led to plenty of fallen leaves. Then we went to the local guitar shop, where they put all the boxes outside and are happy for folks to take them. We stripped out staples and tape again and added on. Then more leaves!
Next we headed home to collect soil (our test hole shows a liberal layer of bricklayer’s sand and a lot of gravel), water and plants. We sang the tree planting blessing over the first tree ( E Scoparia), and added some ruby saltbush for good measure and protection.
While we were there, a woman pulled over on her bike. She is older than me, and I see her cycling in my area really often, always in a dress, frequently going at a very fast speed. What a role model! She said she had formed the impression that the two of us had taken responsibility for this area of the rail corridor and she was wondering if some ruby saltbush that are coming up at her place might be a good fit. Absolutely! We said. So it appears we are now a team of three (in a very loose sense). We hope that rain is coming, and I have lots of plants to put in. Meanwhile, yesterday a friend dropped by with a stack of pots from her day job, that will be perfect for propagating. Might be time for cuttings…
It seems that hats are one of the sources of intergenerational conflict. Wearing one is essential in the Australian sun. But throwing them off insistently is a regular pastime of small people. So finding a hat that is comfortable, fits well and stays on is an important endeavour. I made this one for the grandbub’s second birthday. The lining is part of a high quality shirt, part f which was passed on to me through a Buy Nothing group once its life as a short was over.
The outer is left over from her favourite pair of pants, and the interfacing is from another very much loved shirt whose time for reincarnation had arrived.
There is a nice piece of hat elastic keeping this hat in place firmly but comfortably, and it can be adjusted. And her mother loves the striped lining! This is the adjustable, reversible fisherman’s hat from Justine Online. This is my first effort at a hat and Justine guided me through it successfully, hooray!
A local friend has started a guerilla gardening project in which I am the support crew. Lovely! The first step is sheet mulching. This patch is beside a railway line that carries local trains and interstate freight. It has been barren and weedy for many years. We cut the weeds down.
We each brought cardboard from our favourite places. We removed staples and tape and laid it out to smother weeds. And then, we went out collecting leaves to hold it down, cover it, and complete the weed barrier.
Here we are, pleased with our efforts!
Here I am another day, ready to go again with my bike trailer, two feed sacks full of leaves and more cardboard.
As the weather cools and we get some rain, we will be back in this spot planting. I love the scale of my friend’s ambition here!
There have been a few socks, though the pace of sock knitting has slowed quite a bit. I went to a wedding recently where a gallant younger man who has joined the family relatively recently, asked how my knitting was going having met me only once or twice. It made me realise this is still one of my quirky memorable features (though, no need to ask, for those who don’t knit). The sock yarn scrap knitting kits have continued.
I think the picture above might have been taken at Marion’s place outside Warrnambool.
And here they are, finished. I completed them at a friend’s house and then gave them to her! I love having friends who think a sock made from odds and ends is just perfect.
There has been far too little dyeing in the last few months–we have had a full house and a two year old living with us at times, with plenty of other things to do! I’ve managed to overfill my own personal plate, as is my wont, or failing, or superpower. Or perhaps all three. And there have been big events, house painting, all kinds of things going on. But I did have a trip to visit my friend Marion at Beautiful Silks who had new products she wanted to try out for dyeing. We had so much fun! Her garden is a place of wonder, and the now-closed dye studio has been a place I have passed many a lovely, learning-filled day.
It’s so much fun to dye fabrics I wouldn’t necessarily chooose, combine fabrics and leaves I might not, and use plants I don’t have ready access to at home. Watch what Marion decides to do or ask for. And… we just stretched out into hours of playtime.
Dear reader, I thought you might enjoy a little success story. When I started work on this spot, it was a weedy spot covered in broken glass and rubbish. It’s a culvert near a railway station.
Summer and woolly scale, and a neighbour with his own opinions about the management of this space, have taken their toll, but even so, this space is green now. It is no longer a place people go to smash glass. The first post I can find with images of this site is in 2016. It has changed a great deal!
It is now possible for larger plants like wattles to sprout of their own accord in this spot, though they do not all survive human intervention. I’m still weeding and picking up rubbish. But no longer do people pass and tell me that nothing will grow here. Instead they can tell what I am doing, and in some cases they have seen me there often, weeding and choosing sedge starts to propagate in pots at home. Some pass positive comment, and I wave at passing train drivers as they gaze down on me in this spot stopping by the weed on my way past from a run or train trip.
This is just a gratuitous koala photo. We went for a bush walk with friends and once back at the car park–saw this!
This is me ready to go to yoga, with my non-standard bolster in one pannier, and four bunches of parsley for the Grow Free cart in the other. They were all gone by the time I pedalled back!
I am loving the traffic of books in and out of the street library my beloved has made (with help from my father and the gift of a cabinet from hard rubbish from a friend).
This is what I’ve been doing with yoghurt pots and excess seedlings over summer.
Meanwhile, public art! Gratitude to those who have the skill to adorn, and to local councils who fund projects like this.
I managed to give all these things away on Buy Nothing, to people who were glad to have them. I really did not hold out hope for the (new, removed) insoles. And I am sorry other folks need jumper leads as much as I needed them in the past! Those nappies… given to my daughter and left with me, now gone to where they will at least be used before being disposed of.
And a few more parsley adventures. Since we are rich in parsley!
The first pair of overalls went well enough that my friend was keen for another pair! I had been given a huge quantity of fabric, most of it upholstery weight; and I re-homed it to a new asylum seeker sewing project through STTARS; friends who sew; some Boomerang bags; a kindergarten… you name it, I organised fabric for it! And still had some left. One of the things I love about making clothing is being able to put little personal secret details into it, like giving my friend chicken pockets soon after they have started keeping hens!
It’s a gorgeous fabric, though heavy enough I think they are going to be winter overalls.
I faced the bib and the braces with a pair of capri pants from the op shop I happened to also have… also linen.
I think they really need a human inside them to look good finished, but this is my best offer for now!
The next pair used up some of my vintage cotton thread and feature sunny yellow pockets on the inside…
Hrm. Here is another image that isn’t going to make the front cover of Vogue [sigh!! obviously my lifelong dream–not]. Colour me happy that I got a request for overalls from someone else, who had seen the first two pairs, and here is her pair almost finished…
Here’s an early summer guerilla gardening outing… I can say from the vantage point of Autumn that these saltbush babies are thriving and much larger! Also, that the blue watering can fell apart completely at some stage over summer!
Here is another. Documented with just this one image. The saltbush are so hardy: these look like rhagodia. The prostrate wattles have not all made it, but some certainly have survived summer.
And a different day. I think this was a solo venture into the local creekbed where it runs between back gardens. I seem to remember taking a phone call at some point while I was there, and maybe that’s why I didn’t take other pictures. A fig and an apricot join the random selection of trees growing along the edge of Willa Willa.
In a different part of Willa Willa, running through a park, myself and my friends are planting out Ngarrindjeri weaving rushes (the sedge, cyperus gymnocaulos). Here are shots of babies about to be planted as well as some from previous plantings that I weeded the same day.
More fruit trees destined for public lands, and some water to give them once I have weeded out a place to plant them and put them in.
Bladder saltbush headed out into the big, wild world!
It has become a bit of a tradition to do guerilla planting walks after dinner when people come for dinner with us. It’s so fine to be able to show entire areas that are now covered in native plants or shaded by trees, where once there was only weedy land and broken glass and a regular council poisoning regime.
After the previous post, I found a little dress at the local op shop. It seemed to fit the kind of measurements I was working with. I drafted a pattern from it, modifying it quite a bit to create a fairly plain shirt. Then the fun began and it was a bit addictive.
This one is new fabric from a shop I prefer not to frequent, on the whole… with binding from a Buy Nothing gift of the remains of a high quality men’s shirt.
Then this. Not my finest hour in pattern matching (OK–so I only thought about pattern matching after the fact and focused entirely on getting the whole thing out of the small yardage I’d bought). “Baa baa black sheep” is a favourite for this little person…
Then the chicken prints–I was amazed by what Tricia’s discount fabrics had tucked away in animal prints. Our chickens are so important the grandbub has been known to list them as family members, says good night to them, and visits regularly (every time she comes over).
These buttons have been sitting in my admittedly multi generational button collection for many a long year and finally met their [next] destination!
And this, from two stash fabrics. Cotton body and linen sleeves, with buttons of varying shades of red.
I am happy to say that these outfits have been in constant rotation… often in the style statement known in our household as “mix and clash”.