Potholes are a major problem around the UK. It seems that not a day goes by on the drive to and from work that I spy a pothole in the road, and I end up cringing when I have to drive over it with the thought of the damage it may do to my car. It’s not just vehicles on the road that have to worry about potholes though, pavements have their fair share of holes, cracks and loose flags that the unsuspecting pedestrian can easily trip over if they’re not careful. While the council does eventually get around to fixing them, in the meantime there are people who are taking it into their own hands and beautifying the spots.
Pothole gardening, promoted by this blog that documents pothole gardens in London and around the world, is part of what’s known as guerrilla gardening. Guerrilla gardening is the practice of gardening on land that remains neglected or abandoned, and while it technically isn’t legal (as the gardeners don’t actually own the land they’re gardening on) it seeks to beautify urban areas and can often prompt the authorities or landowners to put some effort into making abandoned and neglected areas at least. However, from a legal standpoint it could still be seen as criminal damage; although local councils may give their blessing if permission is sought, classing the activity as community gardening and leaving it at that.
It’s hard to see how you can argue with people who are simply trying to improve the look of their local neighbourhood, and guerrilla gardeners make the argument that all they are doing is trying to make communities cleaner and more beautiful and getting official persmission takes far too long. However, for others (such as Gardener’s World Monty Don) they remain ‘uncomfortable’ with doing something that doesn’t have official permission, regardless of the benefits. For The Pothole Gardener the comments from local residents have been mostly positive. As the following video shows;
The simple act of putting a few flowers into cracks and holes in the pavement is not only brightening up the area, but making people stop in the street and smile. In think the idea of putting mini ornaments in there too just adds to the charm, such as tiny deckchairs or a miniature tennis court. The pothole gardens tend to be created on pavements, as it’s not exactly safe or practical putting them in the middle of the road (as a vehicle would no doubt flatten them pretty quick).
Have a look at The Pothole Gardener blog for more pictures and videos of pothole gardens around London, plus pothole gardens sent in by readers from around the world. We suggest you check about the legality of doing this in your local area if you intend to join in, but I do think that many areas could do with a little natural creativity – especially run-down urban areas that can be a bit of a blight on the landscape.
If you want to learn more about guerrilla gardening in general, and all the projects currently taking place around the world, take a look at guerrillagardening.org
Have you seen anything like this happening in your area? Are you involved in guerrilla gardening? Do you agree with what they’re doing or disagree? We’d love to know, just contact us via our Google Plus or Twitter accounts.
Pothole garden image by Maurits Burgers on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons licence.