The Unofficial Countryside

I am eagerly awaiting a recent book purchase, entitled Weeds: How vagabond plants gatecrashed civilisation and changed the way we think about nature, by Richard Mabey. He is a wonderful writer and advocate for the hidden wildlife and plants of urban spaces.
I have read a number of his books over the years, and what energises me is his interest in the overlooked and underepresented, such as Blackberry brambles and Nettles, apart from free food, nettles are great for the compost heap, make good soup if you pick the nettles when they are young and are great as a rather wishy washy dye.  

Here is an extract from the Unoffical Countryside to wet your appetite.

"In a stetch of canal near my home there was a stell narrow-boat moored for most of the spring and summer. It had been used for dredging and was full of a tangled mass of silt, beer cans and bankside vegetation. No one seemed concerned about moving it and by mid-summer it was like a floating window-box, sprouting sharp green blades of yellow iris and great water grass, bur-marigold and the pink flower-spikes of redleg.

Soil will find its way anywhere and give plants a chance of beginning. It gets blown as dust between the stone in walls, wiped off shoes into the cracks in pavements....

Mabey's work is about the small and insignificant plants which are so important to bio diversity. Since reading his books I have never been bored by the endless tarmac of the motorways I speed down. I always have my eye out for the next tree or escaped plant sprouting from the edge of the hard shoulder.

Tourist Lane

I linked to Improv Everywhere, a group of arists who make work in public spaces. They describe themselves as "causing scenes of chaos and joy in public places". Link here to see Tourist Lane, a video of the artists work in New York; an amusing comparision between the pace tourists walk as opposed to New Yorkers.