The area around Lewisham train station is a desolate wasteland. Other than a row of large palm trees, there’s a disintegrating raised garden bed, and a long strip of browning weeds. Hardly a joy to behold.
Following a casual suggestion from a neighbour, I guerrilla gardened in a number of gymea lilies, underneath the palm trees. These are extremely tough, and will grow to a size large enough to visually fill in the gaps along the fence.
That got me started, so I continued on to plant a small patch of native plants at the start of the pedestrian walkway that runs alongside the train line.
I’ve since expanded this a little, and it now consists of a mix of acacias (to start enriching the soil), hardy native shrubs (westringias, etc) and strap-leafed plants (lomandras, dianellas).
This has not been without some challenges:
- The railway put in a huge new vandal-proof black fence, and the workers trampled some of the plants in the process (although most survived!).
- The regular railway workers tend to roll their trucks over the garden every once in a while.
- Kids keep stealing the stakes, so the plant guards blow away.
- It’s only rained once in the last 3 months, so hand watering is critical in this early stage.
Despite this, many of the plants, particularly the bushes, are already growing rapidly. I’ve also got a heap of cuttings that should be ready for planting out soon.
Why do this?
A few people have asked me “why bother doing all this, it isn’t your problem?”.
There are a few reasons:
- It’s nice to live in a lovely local environment, and the current station environment is far from lovely.
- It’s also good to increase the local biodiversity, encouraging more birds, insects, etc.
- This land belongs collectively to us, as the local residents. The Council is just the steward of the land, looking after it on our behalf.
- This gives us a responsibility to participate in sustaining and improving the environment.
- Someone should be doing it! The Council, even with the best of wills, can’t do everything for us.
- It’s enjoyable and satisfying to see something grow and prosper.
It’s now official
I also struck up a conversation with the lovely folks at Marrickville Council, who have endorsed the use of the land as a low-maintenance community native garden.
So it’s no longer guerrilla gardening … it’s official gardening. Where’s the fun in that! 😉
Watch this space for updates as the space (hopefully) starts to bush up and spread out…