Hey! Ho! Let’s grow! Wonderful new campaign Let’s Grow Wild is fighting to save the UK’s native wildflowers and encourage the creation of beautiful urban spaces. I caught up with guerilla gardener Richard Reynolds to find out how he’s collaborating with the project, plus I’ve got three wildflower seed kits to give away.
Ready for a scary fact? Since the 1930s, 97% of the UK’s wild flower meadows have disappeared. The good news is that Grow Wild is on a mission to change the fate of our native poppies, buttercups and daisies. Funded by the National Lottery and led by Kew Gardens, the project is all about getting involved in sowing, growing and supporting UK native wild flowers, whether it’s in an abandoned urban plot or just your window box.
One flower fan who’s getting involved with the cause is guerilla gardener Richard Reynolds. He’s a seed ninja who’s spent the last decade transforming London’s unloved spaces undercover. Coolest job ever. Now he’s helping people learn how to Grow Wild, and we had a chat about why protecting native species is so important and how easy it is to get involved.
Plus, I’ve got a great little competition for you – you can win one of three lovely Grow Wild seed and bee house kits and get involved yourself. Flower to the people!
INTERVIEW: GUERILLA GARDENER RICHARD REYNOLDS
How are you collaborating with the Let’s Grow Wild campaign?
I’m collaborating in a few different ways. A spin-off project from my decade of guerrilla gardening has been the creation of The Mobile Gardeners’ Park, a community pocket park on the edge of a gigantic redevelopment site,. This waste ground of rubble is partly a temporary allotment but also partly a future community green space, and Grow Wild are helping fund its gradual transformation into a nature friendly, people friendly place. I’ll also be leading workshops showing just how simple it is to grow wild flowers.
Why is encouraging people to plant wildflowers important?
Because gardening is a wonderfully life fulfilling, life giving skill and for those that haven’t yet discovered it yet, planting wild flowers is about is easy as it gets, because you’re using species that are perfectly suited to our country and used to growing in some pretty tough conditions. There’s also the environmental reason too. Wild flowers are a part of our ecosystem that has become very vulnerable in recent decades because of intensive farming and trends in gardening and urban design. This is destabilising nature, particularly reducing the food supply for pollinating insects. With very little encouragement we can help adjust this imbalance.
How did you first start guerrilla gardening?
I began in 2004 because I had no garden of my own and spotted the neglected flower beds of the council and Transport for London as a great opportunity. I had gardened enthusiastically throughout childhood so had the confidence to know I could do something that wouldn’t be a public embarrassment, but of course I continue to learn all the time from other people and from trial and error. For most of us it’s about being a bit obsessed about gardening, seeing opportunities all over the place and having the confidence to just go and do it and adopt these patches as our public gardens.
Did you find it a good way to meet people in London?
Absolutely. I met my wife Lyla on a traffic island eight years ago, and we got engaged there too a few years later! Some of my closest friends and all sorts of people in my community are people I’ve met because of striking up a conversation in the street whilst I was gardening. It’s a great conversation starter. These days, I use Facebook to spread the word about guerilla gardening events.
Do you have any tips for budding city gardeners?
Now’s the time of the year. Keep it simple, don’t be impatient. If you’re a total novice, wild flower seeds like the Grow Wild packs are a great way to start. Preparing the soil doesn’t take too much effort, and there’s a video explaining how to plant your seeds on Grow Wild’s website.
COMPETITION: WIN A GROW WILD SEED KIT
Inspired by Richard and want to create your own wild haven in a public place? I’ve got three much-coveted Grow Wild seed kits to give away. Each pack contains a little guide to get you started, five packets of UK wildflower seed mix and a DIY bee house you can hang from a tree.
If you’d love to transform an unloved patch of land into a wild garden, comment below with your email address.
This competition is now closed. The winners are Roddy, Hannah and Maria!