Gardeners World comes to Chiswick

Gardeners World features Karen Liebreich and Abundance London’s guerilla gardening

It is always slightly odd when somewhere you know well is featured on national television. It’s as if the sudden spotlight of attention makes you see it with new eyes.

The BBC Two Friday night programme Gardeners World, which regularly attracts audiences of over 2.5 million, came to Chiswick and made a film about Abundance London’s guerilla gardening, which aired last Friday.

Presenter Arit Anderson wandered around Chiswick with Abundance founder Dr Karen Liebreich MBE (MBE for services to the community) telling the story of how in the 12 years since she had set up Abundance London she had set about beautifying “the scruffy bits around the edges” – pavements and verges where weeds thrive and collect the litter.

Arit asked Karen why she did it.

“We’re just trying to do something” she said. “We’re surrounded by biodiversity crises. We can’t do anything about the destruction of the rainforest but we can do little local stuff near where we live.

“It’s finding little patches, little corners that are wasted, that could be little pockets of beauty and biodiversity. It’s having pride in your own area.

“This is a very small but concrete thing that you can do.”

Image above: Abundance London’s ‘Tarmac garden’

“Little pockets of defiant beauty”

As they looked at the meadow area at the piazza on Turnham Green Terrace and “pocket gardens” at the Town Hall and on Fauconberg Rd, Arit spoke to Jenny, a volunteer who has worked on environmental projects in Chiswick with Jenny for 15 years.

“It cheers you up” she said. “People come by and they say: “Thank you so much, it looks so good”.”

Arit duly vox popped passers by, who did indeed say how much they appreciated the difference it made.

Karen calls the garden on Fauconberg Rd the “tarmac garden”. You have to look carefully because it is now covered with flowers in a thin layer of topsoil. but it is indeed tarmac at base. There used to be willow trees which pushed up the tarmac with their roots and Abundance volunteers planted the cracks with seeds.

One young woman whose flat overlooks the space told the Gardeners World presenter how it had become a dumping ground for dishwashers and rubbish until it was rescued and transformed.

Abundance London has beautified 25 spaces over the 12 years they have been going. They are what Karen calls: “little pockets of defiant beauty” which Arit described as “incredibly impressive.”

You can watch Gardeners World on BBC iplayer and if you feel inspired to join Karen and her band of volunteers for a little gentle weeding, you can contact her through the Abundance London website.

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