News / 17 May, 2012

Chelsea Fringe comes to bloomin’ Hackney

Gardening goes ‘pop’ during this three week horticultural extravaganza

de beauvoir gardeners

A growing trend: Miranda Janatka enjoys pop-up gardening. Photograph: Amy Murphy

Pop-up culture meets horticulture on Hackney’s pavements this month as they play host to a variety of pop-up gardens as part of the Chelsea Fringe Festival.

The three-week event from 19 May to 10 June is one of the many Fringe events dotted around London – organiser Tim Richardson’s grass root alternative to the Chelsea Flower Show.

Miranda Janatka, Francesca Bartlett, Tigger Cullinan and Diana Weir make up the De Beauvoir Gardeners’ Chelsea Fringe Committee who registered for the pop-up event.

Working alongside Hackney Council in this community gardening initiative, they will be renovating neglected public spaces with colorful pop-up gardens.

Miranda Janatka hopes it will encourage more people in Hackney to get involved in gardening: “You can grow things anywhere, in a bottle, newspaper pot, whether on a window ledge or in a tree pit.”

London Waste has provided 15 tonnes of compost for people wanting to create their own pop-ups using builders’ sacks that have been provided.

The idea is that anyone can be involved, whether it be providing water for the plants or fully maintaining their own pop up site.

The sites, which are free for the public to view, range from an empty horses’ trough to overgrown tree pits. A map of the sites can be found on their blog, De Beauvoir Gardeners’ Chelsea Fringe.

Francesca Bartlett of the Fringe Committee said: “It’s bringing the idea of gardening and the pleasure of gardening to the general public. It does not have to be about beautiful flowers, people can grow vegetables. I’m growing some beans.”

Miranda is filling her pop up with petunias, poppies, wildflowers and dwarf carnations. She hopes that the event will have a positive impact on people in the community: “Gardening is about sharing with neighbours and it doesn’t cost a thing. As a teacher, I feel that children in the city have become quite distant from nature and growing their own flowers and fruit encourages them to care for things and improves overall well being and happiness.”

This growing trend of environmental activism is sprouting up all over London as a counter culture to the material attachments of city life.

Miranda is just one of many urban gardeners hoping that the initiative can sew seeds of change in the community, both in the public’s view of gardening and the way that we engage with the environment: “The project has the possibility of opening up endless opportunities for people interested in gardening, both in their garden and in the streets,” she says.

She is looking forward to Saturday 19 May and the public’s reaction when the streets burst into life : “I think it will be magical, it really will.”

For those wishing to get their green fingers dirty, they can contact the De Beauvoir Chelsea Fringe Gardeners via email at

/ 17 May, 2012


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