Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Brighton Guerilla Gardens get green light

The first the Sock heard about the Lewes Road Community Garden built on a derelict and disused site, was that it was under threat and had been locked up. The garden was created by what has been described as 'a random bunch of locals' working on community days to clear the ex-Esso Garage eyesore area of rubble and rubbish and establish lawns, seating and planting areas. Within days of the lock-up, 3,000 people had signed a petition to keep it open and Brighton city councillor negotiated an arrangement with the owners of the land agreeing that it can continue to be used as a community garden until the site is needed for redevelopment.

So the Sock set out to see what this community garden was all about.

The Lewes Road runs through a slightly run-down part of Brighton which houses an eclectic mix of students, first time house or flat buyers, the young, the old, the born and bred in Brighton and the people like the Sock who just turn up one day and never move away. The Sock lived not far from this garden for years both in shared houses and then buying her own flat. The area is filled with memories from the Sock's misspent youth.

A sign on the gate welcomes you to a garden and community space "built on the foundations of understanding and mutual respect" and invites you to make a cup of tea, wash your cup afterwards and make a donation if you can.

The garden reflects the community, colourful, chaotic, disorderly, fun, warm, welcoming and vibrant. There are different seating areas all around. Brightly painted tyres are planted with tomatoes, courgettes, salad leaves and herbs. Discarded concrete pipes have been painted and planted with gaudy displays of clashing-coloured plants, pieces of artwork and sculptures. The garden itself isn't beautiful but the concept is.

The one disadvantage of this densely populated and heavily terraced area is the lack of gardens - a fact that the then sun-worshipping Sock felt particularly keenly when she lived there 'borrowing' other people's gardens to sunbathe in. The young woman relaxing in the sun (picture above) could have been the Sock more years ago than she cares to mention.

The Sock suddenly felt rather old and sad. Although in the area she lives now she has gained a garden of her own, she has lost the sense of community.

1 comment:

YAN said...

I've always rather liked the thought of Guerilla Gardening. Arriving in the dead of night, wearing army camuoflage, with a trowel and a box of plants, then, come morning, everyone is astounded by an oasis on a roundabout.

I dare say it never really happens like that, though.