The idea of Gorgeous Gorse Hill came about just under two years ago – two years; can you believe it! We went from an idea – a thought about turning the expanse of grey metal and scruffy grass that populates Gorse Hill into a fully functioning community group with a committee and everything. We’ve even got accounts! Accounts!
Today, I had an interview with the lovely Izzie from Durham University who is doing her thesis on guerrilla gardening. It was lovely talking to her about our project, how it came about, what it means to us and where we fit into the guerrilla gardening movement.
I think we aren’t pure guerrilla gardeners although we do maintain some of their principles and I feel that our planting of the tree pits last year can be perfectly described as guerrilla gardening.
The thing that was so amazing though about my conversation with Izzie was that she heard about us from a guerrilla gardening community in California who recommended she speak to us. California! Can you believe it – little old Gorgeous Gorse Hill, our little project, has been heard about in California. The lovely group who recommended us is the Morro Bay Guerrilla Gardening Club. There are many individuals and groups like Morro Bay all over the world including the inspirational Fante di Fiori in Italy – who is a total legend and whenever I think we’ve bitten off more than we can chew I just think of Fante planting a whole town.
Although Gorgeous Gorse Hill embraces the ethos of guerrilla gardening as well as those of the Incredible Edible movement we are also a little bit unique – we want to include flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruit into our planting schemes. But we’re also looking to create homes for nature: I had a long conversation today with a resident about where the best places for bird boxes are in the area.
But then we have the art; this is where we go a bit off script to other people. But the art is vital, as we have features in Gorse Hill that can’t be addressed by planting alone – those roller shutters, the BT boxes and the forthcoming toilet block.
The art lifts the spirits; when you see the bee, or the ladybirds on the BT boxes or those beautiful birds and bees on the shutters it really does lift your spirits.
To some degree our project is a little more challenging at times as we aren’t using only guerrilla tactics to improve the area so we work in partnership with our local council and housing association; often what we are asking is for them to do and agree to things that they’ve never been asked about before – especially in Gorse Hill. But at the end of the day just like we did when we started the group you have to take a little leap of faith.