Guerrilla Gardening

guerrillaFurzedown Style

The drabness of concrete and asphalt in our streets can wear down the most optimistic spirit.
But the fight-back is underway – led by Furzedown’s own guerrilla gardeners.
Help make your street come alive with vibrant colour by planting wildflower seeds in the tree pit outside your house.
Surprise and delight your neighbours: as part of the Furzedown Festival why don’t you and your children join us, and make your street more attractive and bee friendly this spring and summer?

What do I do?
Wildflower seeds are tough and easy to grow, and should bloom until September at least – all you have to do is sprinkle them on the ground around the trees, cover them lightly with a sprinkling of soil or compost, and occasionally water them if it is dry. Wildflowers prefer poor soil so tree pits are ideal.
For details on how to prepare and tree pit and plant your seeds go to the Furzedown Community Network website at www.furzedown.net  or ask on the Furzedown chatgroup.

Can I do this?
The council are happy for tree pits to be planted with wildflower seeds.
Weedspraying
The Council will spray all tree pits in March/April and again during the summer unless you ask them not to, and let them know the location of your planting. Call or e-mail Sharon Wright at WBC:  STWright@wandsworth.gov.uk Telephone 020 8871 8545 Sharon is in charge of drawing up schedules for the contractors who spray and will ensure that they miss out your tree pits.

THE ‘HOW TO’ LEAFLET

PREPARING THE GROUND
The tree pit may need a thin layer of extra soil:

Why?
·      you fear the ground around the tree is so compacted it cannot be loosened enough to enable the seed to put down some roots.
·      to cover the newly sown seeds

Edging
You may need to edge the tree pit. If the ground around the tree slopes too much then the seed and soil will be washed out when it rains, or when the tree pit is watered. A narrow wooden edging, some Victorian border tiles , or a purpose made edging like Everedge can be used. Take care not to create a trip hazard for people walking down the street though!

WHERE CAN I GET WILDFLOWER SEED?
Most garden centres sell packets of wildflower seed, or it can be bought online. Try Landlife Wildflowers:www.wildflower.org.uk. You can sow an annual mix (flowers for this year) or a perennial mix  (plants come up every year).
Not all of the seeds of perennials flower in their first year so it is a good idea to buy a packet containing a mixture of the two types of seeds, or to combine two packets of the different types. If you prefer to plant your own mix you could combine Common Knapweed, Corn Chamomile, Cornflowers, Corn Poppies, Evening Primrose and Viper’s Bugloss – or just about anything!
If your children are planting seed and you cannot get hold of wildflower seed try compact nasturtiums such as ‘Tom Thumb’– they are bomb proof

HOW MUCH SEED WILL I NEED?
Perennial seed: 1 gm per square metre
Annual seed: 5 gm per square metre
Or roughly 1-2 packets of seed

WHEN SHOULD I PLANT MY SEEDS?
Any time from September to May. March/April is ideal.

GETTING YOUR SEEDS TO GROW
Wild flowers are tough and fast growing. The seeds will need watering before and after they germinate. Once the flowers mature they will need far less water as wildflowers are drought tolerant. Pull out any weeds you spot.

Week 1
Sow seeds, water them in – and wait.
Weeks 2 – 4
The first shoots should emerge. Don’t forget to water the soil if it looks dry.
Week 4 – 12
Seedlings gradually transform into adult plants. Keep watering when dry.
Week 12 – 14
Flower buds are formed .
Week 14 – 16
The first blooms appear.
Weeks 16 – 20
Your display is at its peak.
Week 20 onwards
The flowers fade and produce seed over (roughly around the end of August – depending on the weather). Collect it, or let seeds fall into the tree pit, and then cut the plants down. Remove the cuttings so that light and water can reach the newly fallen seed.

CAN I PLANT ANYTHING ELSE IN MY TREE PIT?
Small bulbs and corms should thrive but you will need to plant these before you sow your seed, or in the autumn once flowering is over (you may need to sow more seed the following year if you have disturbed fallen seed too much when planting bulbs.

Try: Snowdrops (Galanthus), Grape hyacinth (Muscari), Cyclamen hederifolium or Cyclamen coum, or small daffodils and narcissi such as Tête a Tête, Little Gem, Rip van Winkle, Minnow or Jack Snipe. Small perennial plants like Fleabane (Erigeron Karvinskianus), Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) or Campanula portenschlaskiana should also do well, as will any small bedding plants with a compact growing habit like geraniums, Busy Lizzie, or Nemesia.