Tales of a Seedcaster, Spring 2023

Knowledge Exchange

5th May 2023

‘Twer never suche men more happily freed,
Than they who cast grene flowery seed’

- Robyne Høde of Loxley, 137 BC

I love guerrilla gardening.

Well, I love the idea of guerrilla gardening, but I’ve always been put off by the ongoing maintenance and logistics of squatting a specific patch of wild abandonment. Sideways baseball caps off to anyone with the staying power to do it, but I already struggle to keep on top of my medium sized garden.

So last month I rustled up a handful of friends, colleagues and neighbours and founded the Nottingham Seedcasters. The goal is to plant zero maintenance hardy perennial plants, flowers and herbs in our communities. If any or all of the group decide they can no longer be arsed then the things we’ve planted will thrive just fine without us – beautifying street corners and providing nourishment for pollinators. But either way, there should be no need for any Seedcaster to revisit a cast plant except to bask in its tiny glory.

The structure is simple and casual. Seedcasters are encouraged to start off a batch of something wholesome at home (I’ve currently got a few dozen lavender seeds sprouting on my windowsill). When they’re big enough to survive outdoors, they’re shared with the other Seedcasters to be planted in neglected spots on their dog walks, commutes to work, local street corners, etc. On my first few missions I felt a bit self-conscious digging away with my little trowel and suspiciously squirrelling away secret stashes. But now I just get on with it, either being totally ignored by passers-by or exchanging a few pleasantries with them. 

There’s no rules about what to plant, but I’d avoid anything controversial like mint, which is lovely & aromatic but tends to colonise. Perennial herbs like lavender, sage and thyme are safe options that will almost definitely be loved by humans and bugs alike. Self-seeding wildflowers are brilliant but might struggle to compete with grass so they’re a little more advanced. Bulbs are great because they have the oomph to push up through grass & weeds each spring without any human assistance. However, some bulbs are quite toxic to humans and/or animals (looking at you, lilies) and some plants are invasive, so spend some time reading up beforehand. You are responsible.

When it comes to picking locations, that’s when things get a little grey. We don’t interfere with anyone’s personal garden, or anywhere that is clearly being looked after by someone because rude. But office car parks, apartment block communal gardens, neglected parks, bases of suburban pavement trees... you probably walk past hundreds of spots every day. From micropatches of dirt for a single tulip, to shady glades for a grand bluebell and lavender meadow.

Just for fun we tag everything we plant. One of the Seedcasters is a member of our local Hackspace. He designed a simple vector logo in Inkscape (shout out Free Open Source software) and laser cuts batches of them out of laser-safe scrap plywood. These get painted and stuck in the ground with our plants. As a bonus bit of fun the Hackspace embroidery machine is used to produce group mission patches.

I have high hopes that our small band of merrymen will sow flora aplenty over the coming seasons, spreading joy to the good people of Nottingham and endowing multitudinous pollen for the good bugs of the same.■

Written by Parsnip
Audio Reading by Aces

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