Belfast Telegraph

Brownies 'seed bomb' Belfast playing fields to mark 100th birthday celebrations

By Linda Stewart

A group of Brownies have taken to guerrilla gardening to green up some Belfast playing fields and create homes and food for wildlife.

The troop of girls from the West Kirk pack on the Shankill Road marked the 100th birthday of the Brownies by creating 'seed bombs' and throwing them at the playing fields.

In summer, the mix of soil and wildflower seeds will burst into a wealth of colour, from red poppies to white ox-eye daisies.

This year the Brownies are working hard to get their RSPB badge and have already built bug hotels and gone bird watching on their quest for another accolade on their uniform.

RSPB NI's senior conservation officer, Claire Barnett, has been helping the girls make homes for nature in their local green space – in a rather unconventional way.

"They created 'seed bombs' and, with the council's permission, had a great time throwing them at Hammer Playing Fields," she said.

"When summer comes, they will explode into a riot of colour – from red poppies to white ox-eye daisies. Not only will the flowers look wonderful, they will also provide a vital habitat for wildlife and a rich food source for insects."

Claire said the girls had a lot of fun and also learnt how easy it is to create homes for birds and wildlife on your doorstep.

"Once they bloom, the wildflowers at The Hammer will attract species like bumblebees, butterflies and birds," she said.

"I've been really inspired by how enthusiastic the West Kirk Brownies have been about getting their RSPB badge and I hope they will continue connecting with nature after their organisation's centenary year."

Guerrilla gardening is a growing movement which has seen people gardening on land that they do not have the legal rights to utilise, such as abandoned sites, areas that are not being cared for, or private property. It ranges from gardeners who spill over their legal boundaries to gardeners with political influences who seek to provoke change by using guerrilla gardening as a form of protest or direct action.

Some guerrilla gardeners carry out their actions at night to sow and tend a new vegetable patch or flower garden. Others garden at more visible hours for the purpose of publicity, which can be seen as a form of activism.

Guerrilla gardening started in the the Bowery Houston area of New York in 1973 when Liz Christy and her Green Guerrilla group transformed a derelict private lot into a garden.

The space is still cared for by volunteers but now enjoys the protection of the city's parks department.

West Kirk Brownie leader, Hazel Kane, said: "Working towards their RSPB badge for the Big Brownie Birthday has been really fun and educational for the pack.

"It will be lovely seeing the wildflowers blossom in the summer – they will be a visual reminder to the girls that they can make a real difference to protecting nature for the future."

Background

The Belfast Telegraph has launched a major gardening drive called Blooming Marvellous. We're calling on gardeners and novices across Northern Ireland to take up a trowel and breathe new life into dismal gardens. We've just launched a province-wide gardening competition and are serving up a wealth of horticultural articles this spring. Whether you're a gardening club, allotment group or you've spotted something unusual among the tulips, let us know by emailing lstewart@belfasttelegraph.co.uk.

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