Saturday, 25 October 2014

Southern Cross

With the tireless aid of Jan van Duppen (who also shot these photos), I went back to the New Cross pits to see what survived the heat, vandals, the sunflower domination and, again as it turns out, the over-enthusiasm of some of the sunflower volunteers, and also to plant some more perennials. I thought we were going to coincide with the sunflower team harvesting seeds for next year but they got there before us and stripped out the tatty dying annual planting. So, while Jan was fascinated with the degree of rubbish left in these pits (chicken bones, bottles, cans, plastic, pens...), I could tell they had actually been cleaned up and this was light traffic! 

So after several bags of rubbish removal, we tidied up the insanely congested iris rhizomes (I would still love to chop these up and redistribute them for an even vaster sea of iris...) and planted anew. Rosemary, Leucanthem (shasta daisy), Verbena Bonariensis and Japanese Anemone went in. I hope they stay... This was the spot where I planted wild carrots (which were doing great until the Sunflowers drowned them out) and an Aquilegia (hopefully that seeded before equally losing out to the yellow forest). The new plants are all tough, invasive and nectar rich - ideal for this location. They are also perennial - so year round greenery and less labour intensive in terms of care (in theory).

You can see in the corner of these two pits two of the Kniphofia (Red Hot Poker) that I planted with Rosie (out of about 8 that went in). Fingers crossed they make it too...

This pit is also the former scene of the Teasel that got yanked out and dropped by some idiot, twice. But the Hardy Geranium is surviving - there were also some Crocosmia here and Rudbeckia (which may have been 'weeded out' by team sunflower...).

Ending on a slightly more positive note, here are the survivors in the biggest pit:
an Acanthus, a Hollyhock, a Hardy Geranium (donated by @LewishamGardens) and some emerging shoots of an Arum Lily. The alchemilla and dogwood that @LewishamGardens also supplied did not survive the heat/sunflower domination, sigh. There were 2 other Acanthus planted that had re-emerged from previous over-zealous weeding but hopefully this one is sufficiently large not to be misrecognised.

Parting tips today:

when guerrilla gardening you can be more weed tolerant than in a private garden!

  • 'weeds' may be planted by someone else...
  • only the super-invasive matting weeds are a problem, mostly other plants are green and have flowers and thus nectar. In the case of nectar-filled dandelions they help break up the soil too...


Happened to be walking past the beds next to the former Job Centre on Camberwell Green and snapped the progress of these totally untended plants. I havent touched them for at least a year, nice to see several spikes of Hollyhocks and the skeletal frame of a Teasel (which means it will have seeded). Its still an extended rubbish dump but at least these guys made it through - transplanted from Dog Kennel Hill.