Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Event - Saturday 5th June in Stirchley 11am - 4pm

WOWEEE I have remembered how to use photoshop again! It took about 4hours to remember and some books from the library, but it feels good!

SO here is what I have created! I hope this comes out ok, I have been having problems saving it so it doesn't look pixellated on pcs - so let me know if it looks strange.

I am still waiting to here from coop about a where the stall can be located, but I thought I really need to start getting these flyers out otherwise no one will know about it!

I am hoping to adapt this flyer a bit to advertise a craft workshop in Stirchley library hopefully taking place next Thursday - will let you know as soon as I sort that out. A bit short notice I hear you cry! Well I take your point on board.

I would like to thank everyone who has helped out in this project so far - this flyer does not reflect all the support I have had, as there wasn't space, but don't think it has gone without thanks.

Will let you know about venue changes!

Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Strawberry plants look how I felt last Wednesday

Hi there. There are some unhappy strawberry plants amongst the mix. I think they had hardly any roots so are struggling in these pots - but the Granny's bonnets are doing really well! Wouldn't you agree?

Today I am going to concentrate on finishing a flyer to promote the Thought Exchange event, which is coming up so soon. The chap from the coop came back to me with lots of support about the project, and notifying me that June 5th (the date I am planning to hold the event) is World Environment Day. Which has potential links, so I'm going to have a look into this. Just waiting for a final sign off to hold the event at the Stirchley store from the manager.... hopefully he'll email me this week. (NB the link to coop midlands site here seems a little bit dated...) Part of the preparation for the event will involve asking each plant to give me a bit of detail about their life and themselves, and trying my hand at some not very botanically accurate illustrations of them in flower. I am also working on the questions that will form the framework of the thought exchange.

On Friday I spoke to a couple of very helpful staff at Stirchley library about linking in with some half term activities - possibly doing a family craft workshop, and maybe having a slot at their next coffee morning. So I've got to have a think about that. Lots to think about. They also said they were happy to exhibit documentation of the event in the library on their notice board. All very positive stuff. But I just need to decide on the final direction and give them some more specific ideas about what I can do. So today I will also be sketching out some ideas about how this could work.

Lots to do, so will speak later.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

More plants! Hurrah!

I haven't as yet counted the number of plants we just rescued from a garden in Hazellwell Lane. But considering the majority of gardens were very overgrown with brambles, bindweed and buddleia, we managed to find a lovely patch of bluebells, violets and creeping jenny. And others. Fantastic. So they are all potted up - need to buy more compost tomorrow **note to self**. And I need to label them all too. The compost is quite fine and airy so they will need a lot of watering. And there was so much bindweed entangled with things, we had to carefully check roots of everything planted to make sure no unwanted garden terrors are given away along with garden lovelies!

Some of the strawberry plants from the Kwiksave car park (site opposite the British Oak pub on Pershore Road/ Hazelwell Street) have now also been added to the collection. Eight healthy looking specimens. And we left about two or three plants in situ - as it is nice to see strawberries growing in the wild.

The chap still living in Hazelwell Lane was most helpful in allowing us into his garden, and telling me about where I can gather leads on the others who used to live down that road a good 10 years ago. One suggestion was to look at records in the library archives - to look at the history of the road; and there were a few contacts at the community centre that might be fruitful. It would be interesting to build a picture of this community before Tescos bought them out. Most of this row of houses have been empty for 9 years. Last Sunday one of the houses was set on fire. How much longer can it take before a decision will be made! Or any action taken?

The town centre manager for Stirchley responded to me yesterday about options for holding the stall for the exchange event on 5th June. He potentially offered the space outside the constituency office/ school. Which would be excellent - right in the heart of the area. I sent a contact at coop some information yesterday too so I'm waiting to hear from him also about having the stall outside the front of the coop by the bus stops.

Well I think it is over and out for me now.... maybe catch up tomorrow!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


Hello there, I have some positive news to report. I have been granted access to more gardens on Hazelwell Lane - to see whether any additional plants can be salvaged. So this weekend, I will be scrambling through brambles to see what can be found. Fingers crossed.

Also, I have been given permission by the property managing agent to take any plants of interest from the site that was previously (many blue moons ago) Kwiksave. There is a rather uplifting strawberry plant there living in the crack between the tarmac and a wall. So if you see any dodgy activity happening on this patch then please come along and help! I have permission! Well, I have permission to remove plants. I have not been granted permission to actually have the plant stall - the Stirchley Thought Exchange event itself - on this land. Not sure why. So I am still looking for venues....

...I am hoping this event, where the found plants are given back to residents, will take place on Saturday 5th June - or May bank holiday Monday - I have left a message with the Coop Superstore to see whether it might be something they would be happy to support on their land, perhaps at the front of the store. Not sure what anyone thinks about this.... hmmm.

Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum
On Monday just gone, I attended the Stirchley Neighbourhood Forum meeting, and listened to a presentation by West Midlands Police about Taser guns. Which was interesting. And included a demonstration. You are thinking: "how is this relevant to plants on derelict sites?" Well, I followed this presentation with a small announcement about this project, the Stirchley Thought Exchange. "Ah yes, I see" you say. The forum members seemed to be interested and supportive. In fact they had a couple of useful ideas of where the saved plants could go - there is a patch/ community garden by Bournville train station on Mary Vale Road - BT have taken it over I believe, however it is in need of attention generally, and a few extra plants wouldn't go amiss. Another suggestion was to plant them in Hazelwell or Cotteridge Park. Which is a great idea. Although I have a lot of mint. I'm not sure whether that is a park plant? I said I would send the link to this blog to Mick at the forum to include on the website too. Note to self....

Buddleia Seeds
I was very pleased on Monday as several packets of flower seeds that I had ordered from the internet (I did feel bad not using local businesses tut tut) had arrived. Including my buddleia butterfly mix - the picture above is of me looking (subtly) excited, just incase you were wondering. Its a pretty bad picture, I'm not entirely sure why I'm posting it, only it took me quite a long time to work out how to flip pictures taken by the webcam so I felt slightly compelled to use it! On the front of the packet is a photo of nice pink and white varieties; I am hoping they are less invasive than the common purple kind (sorry Buddy). Although I am excited by them, I am not exactly sure what to do with them. Any suggestions please comment! I was thinking of starting them off then having them as small gifts for people if there are not enough rescued plants. Hmm. Thought cap goes on.... I might do an unplanned consultation down at TASCOs club on Saturday night over a whiskey mac, see what the punters think. They might have some interesting contributions on how to take this forward considering they are in the middle of the derelict land. Maybe the cafe too.... saturday morning.... so many ideas!

Ok, I'm rambling a little now, so I'm going to head off!!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


Oh my goodness the clouds were so dark today I really thought it was going to rain. But it hasn't yet - and I'm sure Buddy and all the other guys need a sprinkle. Alas I'll have to remember in the morning. Or they'll be telling everyone I've been mistreating them! Goodness me....

I spent last night making little labels for them all out of margarine tubs (I would've taken a picture but I need to get a camera); I can remember the names of the easy ones like foxglove, primrose - but its the osteospermum and monkshood I would've forgotten. So at the moment 22 potted plants from a garden of the empty properties on Hazelwell Lane are just getting the know each other really - some had seen each other from afar but never really had the opportunity to talk. I guess they find it interesting to see what other gardens are like. And I feel like maybe they are a little bit excited about what is going to happen to them - because every time I go out into the garden they go all quiet... like they don't want me listening in on their visions for the future...

Monday, 3 May 2010

Buddy the Buddleia

Hi there! I am a buddleia or 'butterfly bush'. You've probably seen lots of bushes like me around Stirchley - maybe you have one in your garden, or perhaps in a neighbouring garden or piece of land.

I have come from the garden of one of the boarded up houses in Hazelwell Lane. I could have been planted as a garden plant, but people associate me with derelict sites waiting for development or buildings that have been left to fend for themselves... I am not fussy where I park my roots, as you can see from the photos, this is one of my relatives who has settled in on an old pile of bricks and rubble further along Hazelwell Lane, and another who is enjoying the view from Stirchley swimming bath roof.

I have to admit, I am very used to being free and out in the open, so I am not sure how long I will last in this pot.... Roxie has been taking good care of me, making sure I am watered, but to be honest my roots are feeling claustrophobic. I can't wait to be planted!
My buddliea cousins come in lots of varieties of different leaf and stem formations, flower shapes and colours, and we are great for wildlife, hence my nickname the butterfly bush. I am Buddleia davidii - with a mauve flower, and am sometimes considered a weed (I guess because I'm really not fussy where I set up home), but I have overheard people complaining about how invasive I can be. But I don't mind being pruned!

Saturday, 1 May 2010


Hello! Welcome to Stirchley Thought Exchange's blog space! This is an environmental art project that aims to gather the stories of residents and plants affected by physical changes in their environment.

Garden plants saved from Stirchley's derelict sites will be given back to the community through 'thought exchange' events - where residents and visitors to the area can take a plant and its story, and add their own story of their experience of the ever changing Stirchley, for others to take away. The ultimate idea is that members of the community can re-house a plant that otherwise may have been bulldozed or sprayed with weedkiller along with the rest of the overgrown gardens and car parks of dilapidated buildings around the area. They also can take away a thought from someone else; a response to these changes, or a thought for the future.

I have lots of plans of how this project can develop and flow, but am interested in hearing ideas - for example, I hope to contact the local school and think about taking a session with a story telling approach - looking at the lives and emotions of these plants, who have been uprooted from their surroundings, and how they might look forward to growing in someone else's garden; and how this reflects the thoughts of the buildings and people around us - our sense of community, and sense of place. If there is anyone who uses story telling as an art form who is interested in helping to develop this, then please let me know! I am also interested in working with local shops too, so there is much work to do and many contacts to make.

I hope to update this blog with progress on this project, and stories from the rescued plants... notes from my walks around the area as I see new patches containing plants of interest. As the project progresses I too will learn so much more about horticulture and understanding plants, and get to know my local area in a very different light.