One thing that is important to me is thinking about the spaces where we live being about more than just what is in our front and back yards. Your own private garden is a great place to start, and people have created some beautiful designs to enhance the outdoor spaces of their homes. But often these gardens are behind high fences that only your family and friends get to see. I like to think of the whole space we live in – our street scapes, footpath, nature strips, laneways and spaces that we can better use and improve. These are spaces we are always using – exercising, taking kids to school, walking our dogs – and maybe we’d be out even more if it there was more to see and enjoy. Some of our older suburbs in Melbourne are lucky to have gorgeous established trees, others are only just starting out, but increasingly people are looking at ways to use and improve the public spaces we share. People are growing and sharing their produce with their neighbours. Rather than chop it down a friend I know has incorporated many of the plants from her neighbour’s yard into her own garden – the plants get love and attention (and produce a huge amount of produce) for both side of the fence! I do love the people behind Pimp Your Pavement http://www.pimpyourpavement.com/ and I would love to see more of that happening here in Australia!
There are things to think about when if you do want to plant in public spaces. You need to know what the local regulations are, consider what your neighbours may want, ensure the space still be accessible and usable. Even when you do all this it doesn’t always go well and a lot of hard work can be destroyed in minutes so be prepared for disappointment. I regularly plant down our local laneway and many of the plants from the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show (MIFGS2016) have been relocated there. I’m also trialling our fantastic Med-O Seeds on our local nature strip. But in the past we’ve had people pick or just tear down our flowers.
Recently I got an email from Jane Miller in Carlton who is also experiencing some roadblocks in her efforts to beautify her local area, along with others locals. Jane has had to move a lane garden she’s been tending to for 12 years as her local Council changed the regulations for planting in a public space. It was too hard to meet the criteria for a ‘Pop Up Garden’, let alone the extra cost.
So I’m not saying this is easy. But I still think it’s worth the effort and we can make it work with a little bit of compromise and consideration on both sides (like my friend and her neighbour!) It’s all about respect people – respecting our environment, the space will live in and the people we share it with. So think about extending your green thumb skills out of your own yard and into the streets you live in.
Go forth. Grow stuff. Everywhere.