Monthly Archives: April 2023

More guerilla gardening

Here I am about to head out to the guerilla garden. And here it is. I planted quite a bit here and then, two spray chalked circles appeared on the ground. What could it mean? It turned out to mean that these two trees went in. And whomever planted them, left almost all of my understorey plantings. Too good!

At this stage I think I’m about a year in. The early survivors are coming along well, and my mulching with the leaves that fall in the nearby car park has helped with the rather invasive weeds this patch is also growing.

I planted some new things here. Creeping boobialla for the win, in this case.

I planted more than once.

I was emboldened by the trees going in.

After a big effort like that, it’s common for public plantings to be left alone for a good while (in which my ground covers might grow enough to be understood by the person tending this patch, for instance).

Here it is some time later! I’ve taken to walking this way and pulling weeds in this spot–I find if I am keeping weeds down then a patch is less likely to be poisoned and therefore my plants are more likely to make it to the point where they will crowd out the weeds.


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Guerilla gardening: My dream of a eucalyptus lined bike path

Last winter I kept trying to keep this strip of trees alive. My friends and I planted some of them 3 years ago. I replaced some with the baby trees my sister gave me, when some were pulled out by the roots. Part of the job of keeping them alive, is to make sure that the weeds around them are managed well enough. This is an area where head high weeds have been the norm for years. I spent a lot of time sheet mulching with cardboard and then piling on gathered fallen leaves.

This first image is “before” can you see the Eucalyptus Leucoxylon in there??? No, I thought not. This might be a good thing, if you are minded to pull it out once sighted. On the other hand, if someone decides to mow this whole area once a year–I’ll lose all the trees. The stake might help, but frankly, sometimes having a stake is a problem, because it is visible during the night when people who are drink and drug affected clearly walk this way and random things happen. Like stakes and anything tied to them getting pulled out for no obvious reason. Maybe I have cause and effect all wrong, but that is how it seems to me in this patch.

So, I roll up with scavenged cardboard and my bike trailer. Then I spread the cardboard out, overlapping it to protect from wind. I’m a bit fascinated by the changing procession of weeds along here. At this point, scabiosa predominated, but there are invasive grasses, convolvulus and such in there too.

And then, leaf collection. I collected a lot from a car park, where eventually a woman came down from the office beside the car park to ask me what I was doing. Picture me, if you can, in my grubby, very much mended gardening jeans, equally scruffy short and sad old purple hat. This woman is up on the first floor answering a phone all day and looking out of a window. She sees this scruffy person with a bike and bike trailer appear, complete with shovel–disappear and then reappear and few times, and then maybe sees me again a day later or a week later. I explained that I was using the leaves for mulch and I was going out on a limb thinking that no one would mind if the car park was cleared of fallen leaves–and if it was weeded and litter was picked up as well. She was highly entertained by the idea of guerilla gardening and we both went back to our tasks!

Here is another tree with mulching part completed… usually about 4 trailer loads of leaves to get all that cardboard covered. Here it is, again, job done.

This was a major labour. There are about 8 trees still going. And those stakes are made from salvaged wood. My partner cuts them for me if I get all the nails out of timber I find in hard rubbish.

And here is another, mulched.

And with a bit more context. Last winter I planted ground covers and saltbush alongside some of these little trees to begin on giving them a weed suppressing understorey.

And then, one day, I rode along this path and saw in the distance that it finally had been mowed! The moment I had feared during the Royal Show–didn’t happen. The timing seemed so random to me! My heart in my mouth, I sped up and saw… that all the little trees were still there! The understorey plants had all been mowed flat. Some eventually came back. But the trees are all alive! Someone else planted an additional tree that was a species destined to be immense–I was worried about it but left it–that one died before the mower came through, and so did a couple of mine.

You may be detecting a few dye specimens here.

And finally–in the shot below you can see that someone else has been trying to make up for the lack of staking on some of these trees. It began with a mask someone adapted to “tie” a tree to a stake. Someone else brought short lengths of hessian string and added them. Maybe it’s the same person. I don’t know! And some one/s have added stakes ranging from tidy ones they must have hammered in, to sticks shoved in the ground and tied on. The E Polyanthemos has had a second stake added in a way I find very puzzling. Never mind. The punch line is: these trees have some friends, and THEY ARE ALIVE. My dream of a tree lined, ususally where stakes I put there have been pulled out bike path lives on.


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Mending as climate action

Dearest readers, as I riffle through my photographs wondering what to share with you, I’m really struck by the combination of nature images, crafty things, and climate action (and, a very hefty set of granddaughter photos!) For me, they are all related. In all honesty, I don’t think individual climate action is important enough to get really agitated about. We are all caught up in a system that makes it virtually impossible to eliminate plastics and fossil fuels from our lives in this country. Taking the actions that I can take as an individual, is a step in the direction of aligning my actions with my values. It is thus a step in the direction of integrity. It is also a self education project, and all forms of education are worthwhile. All actions to limit consumption and reduce carbon footprint are needed. But in the end, community action outside of our own individual households is necessary. We, the people, need to press government and corporations to take action–what they do and don’t do, dwarfs what any of us can accomplish alone.

Every sock whose life I extend is kept from landfill a while longer (if plastic is part of its construction–landfill is its ultimate destination). Plastic is now part of the construction of so many garments that all garment mending is important. And let’s be up front and declare that acrylic, polyester, lycra, nylon, polyamide, and blends that involve any of these fibres–are made from plastic. Socks that are 100% wool or any other natural fibre, can go into the worm farm, compost bin or earth at the end of their lives and return to soil. But if they have 15% nylon content, putting them into any of these places will result in adding microplastics into my garden. Keeping them going respects the hours I put into making them, the love my sweetheart has for them, and the resources and labour (and hence emissions and likely, exploitation) that went into the manufacture of the yarn. And so, I mend.

People ask about hours spent mending as a waste of my time. Because of my views about individual action, I tend to ask myself whether individual actions are a decent use of my time. If guerilla gardening gives me pleasure and exercise–that’s enough for me. If mending can take place in meetings, in front of the TV, and as the closest I come to meditation–then great. But every so often I decide I’m spinning my wheels on some waste management project and just let it go. I see and hear people caught up in guilt about their individual contribution to the climate emergency, and I don’t think it makes sense. Do your best at individual level, and move on! Getting caught up in these feelings doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, if any of us can help it. Our contributions as individuals are just not the main problem.

Authors on the subject of mending and slow fashion, from Orsola de Castro to Aja Barber to India Flint, talk about how the stories and memories and effort embedded in clothes that you make and/or mend yourself, increase your sense of investment and attachment to them, and thus your preparedness to keep wearing and tending to them. That’s certainly what I experience. And I also enjoy my own and other people’s attachment to clothes that are well worn and comfortable and that they want to keep wearing, whether they were expensive or cheap, bought new or second hand, made at home or in a factory.

I’ve spent very many hours on this cardigan of my sweetheart’s–because she loves its soft gloriousness so much. I think when she looks at it she doesn’t really see its current bedraggled state, but more its original glory, the foreign city she bought it in, and of course the comfort and softness of its yarn and the beauty of that lovely blue.

This is a Very Special dress that came home with me from a workshop, discarded after a lot of love and washing from someone else, with some tears in it. My granddaughter loves it even though it won’t fit her quite yet… its time will come, and for me that combination made it worth mending–and this was the kind of repair that really doesn’t take long despite being the apparent reason the dress was discarded.

More hand knit socks that get to live another day. I don’t buy darning thread (well, the blue cardigan was a special case!)–so here I’m using multiple strands of different colours to create what I think is a pleasing effect, rather than trying to match when I really can’t, using what I have.

And so, on it goes. The earth is a beautiful place, and I’m prepared to mend to protect it. And also prepared to do civil disobedience to protect it. And there is no need to choose between the two!


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I’ve done a lot of screen printing in the last while. There have been new batches of patches like these–Extinction Rebellion give these away at mending events for people to use as patches.

I’ve continued to mostly use hand cut stencils, using vintage wallpaper from the Adelaide Remakery.

Patches like these are part of communicating why we are taking action. Here are some rebels who have been in court for nonviolent civil disobedience, on the steps of the Magistrates Court.

XR did a lot of actions asking the Tour Down Under bicycle race to dump SANTOS as its main sponsor. This is the climate emergency equivalent of stopping cigarette sponsorship of sporting competitions.

I must admit I find my clothes line entertaining at times!

This series is for a ride supporting renewables.

Sometimes folks supply fabric especially for the job–sometimes even that is sourced second hand or by donation from someone’s stash. But I silk screen onto secondhand sheets a lot too–using whatever part of the sheet is still useable and using smaller scraps for small patches.

There was a family ride for renewables to coincide with the “Tour Down Under” but… it was cancelled because it was too hot to ride. Just in case you hadn’t given any thought to how the climate emergency will affect sports!

You better believe I scour op shops for suitable colours!

And then there is good old fashioned white sheet… as well as white curtains and random calico offcuts. These things regularly come to me, well past their best and not suitable from their original purpose.

I have also been using absolute rag for cleaning up and for creating a couch for the printing process. And there have been some runs of (second hand) t shirts, with more to come! It is a bit quietly exciting going into an op shop and being told all the clothes over there–are $2. Although it is an example of exactly what the environment does not need, that there are so many t shirts and other textiles going to waste all around–there are some I can put to good use. It’s much better to do this than to buy new t shirts for props and for actions and screen print them. It’s less stressful, as well. And on that sunny note, I’ll put my squeegee down for now!


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Stitch it don’t ditch it September 2022

Photo credit: Fernando Goncalves (photographer to social movements in our city)

I have been trying to think about how long I have stepped away from the blog… and there are some things I might just revisit even though they happened some time back! We have continued with Stitch It Don’t Ditch it in Adelaide, intermittently. here, it is hosted by Extinction Rebellion and we are making the connection between fast fashion, textile waste and the climate emergency. Plus, some of us like mending!

In that first photo, we are gathering, acknowledging the Kaurna people on whose land we are meeting, and hearing from each person in the circle.

This gathering took place in Slow Fashion September; Secondhand September—because we are not the only ones who recognise that fast fashion needs to change and we need to Stitch It Don’t Ditch It!

We know that textiles, and in particular clothing, contribute massively to global pollution and the climate emergency. We mend because we understand that we are implicated in the system of clothes production that produces unfair working conditions globally.  We mend because Australia is a place where change is needed, in order for to the human, climate and environmental impacts of fast fashion to be addressed.

Photo credit: Fernando Goncalves

Here we are with our chair banners. We are sitting outside H & M in the main pedestrian shopping mall in our city. I’ve taken to opening this event by saying something like:

We come to mend and to be mended

We come to mend our clothes

And to be mended by the process of stitching

We come to sew on our buttons

And we come to be part of the global movement that seeks to mend our damaged earth

We come to darn our socks

And we come to be mended by the company of others who want to mend the broken system that pollutes our earth and exploits humanity in the name of fast fashion.

We come to patch the tears in our pants

And we come to mend our broken hearts in the company of other fine and compassionate humans.

Photo credit: Fernando Goncalves.

And here we are mending. There are chats with passersby as well. But mostly companionable mending.


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Makes in the wild

I sometimes try to take photos of our grandchild in things I’ve made. It’s challenging on a few fronts–she is a frisky, energetic person with her own agendas and I don’t want to displace them to get a picture. I don’t usually post pictures of people’s faces. And this person wriggles a lot! These are socks I made with the leftover yarn from a pair I made for my daughter. Yes, mother and daughter matching socks!

Having the ice cream Mum promised, at the local shops. I believe you’ve seen this jumper before. I do love that little hand on my thigh!

Investigating something interesting in the chook pen, in a jumper I knit for my fairy-godless-son when he was much, much younger. He has always been a tall and slim human and I knit the jumper to fit his physique. This 4 year old now wears the same jumper, as a dress. I love that friends I made clothes for have tended some of them so well, and thought of me so sweetly, that they are now being used by my grandchild after 2 or 3 other children. In other cases… they have been worn into shreds, which is so good (except that alpaca jumper where my spinning skills were not really up to the challenge)!

My gardening jeans, out in the garden, where the dandelions are.

And this is a cute little frock. Frocks with long sleeves are good for sun protection and hard to find. This one became a firm favourite despite my doubts! Pygmy possums and banksias, what is not to like?

It’s the fish hat! And here is a bonus eucalypt for your enjoyment.


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