The Treeline Project

July 17, 2017

mud island

Photo: Mud Island Community Garden, Dublin

The Treeline Project aims to create a green corridor on Dublin’s James Joyce Street by planting a variety of trees chosen from Ulysses.”

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Photo: Printmaking with Flowers, The MONTO Picnic, Dublin with artist Naomi Draper

Through tree schools, music, picnics, art, spoken word, theatre and dance organisers encourage the activation of green public space in Dublin’s city centre.

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Photo: Farmers’ Hill, North East Community Garden, Dublin

The project celebrates Dublin as a potential Playful City where outdoor spaces bring generations together through imaginative design, conversation, gardening and special events.

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Photo: Jason Sheridan at Hardwicke Community Garden Dublin

A Tree School Manifesto from the Treeline Project

Written and Activated by Artists Seoidín O’Sullivan and Katie Holten

Tree School is a free school.

Tree School is a school without walls.

Tree School has no homework, only love work.

Tree School invites visitors of all sizes, no one’s too young or too old.

Tree School has no leaders, we are all students.

Tree School encourages radical action and radical inaction.

Tree hugging is encouraged, but is not mandatory.

Tree School keeps the same hours as trees: We’re always open.

Tree School is rooted in James Joyce Street in Dublin’s inner city.

Tree School explores all that is political and poetical about trees.

Tree School is creating a new ABC….written with a Dublin-specific Tree Alphabet.

Who doesn’t want to write a love letter with trees?

Tree School offers grafting workshops because the world needs more trees and we can plant them.

Tree School disputes the myths of scarcity. Nature is abundant if we could access land, plant a seed, grow a tree.

Tree School grafts ideas, unearthing the rhizomatic potentialities of trees.

Tree School wants every child to have access to a tree to climb and pick fruit from.

Tree School curriculum is germinating…




Header Image: Photo taken by Andrew Teebay of the Liverpool Echo for The Guardian, May 15, 2015

Granby Four Streets Guerrilla Gardening Photos by Ronnie Hughes

Granby Four Streets (Liverpool) is a Community Land Trust (CLT) administered as a not-for-profit initiative offering affordable housing and community facilities. A CLT is a local democratic force empowering communities to develop environmental and architectural solutions for their locality. In the case of Granby Four Streets it is a vibrant endeavour transforming a derelict neighbourhood into a haven for good design. Residents of the area have suffered at the hands of impoverished planning and neglectful politics for decades. A group of 18 young architects collaborating under the name Assemble have begun to change the entire self esteem of this neighbourhood by re-designing homes and local landscapes. They have just won the Turner Prize for their revolutionary tactics.

In the aftermath of riots in 1981, the Granby area suffered declines in both residents and liveable properties. It became a forgotten area where houses were boarded up and a sense of community pride became lost in an exodus to escape. Only 70 residents remained in an area where there were once 200 homes. Some of these residents  became guerrilla gardeners calling themselves That Blooming Green Triangle (referencing their triangular block of terraced houses). Beginning their crusade over ten years ago, their unyielding commitment to enhancing local landscapes began to re-create hope and a sense of collective artistry. They are a testimony to how pride of place can conquer all. The most discouraging streets have now been revitalised with wildflowers and herbs, pop-up events, murals, markets and garden work parties.

A handful of tenacious people sowing seeds and planting flowers in forgotten corners to counteract neglect not of their making has triumphed over three decades of planning policy failure ( Grass Roots Regeneration by Caroline Beck



Photos: Granby Four Streets Guerrilla Gardening by Ronnie Hughes

Planting up the streets began as a deliberate way of making the place look special and cared for and a pleasure to live in, when all of the tinned up properties might suggest that none of those things were true (Ronnie Hughes,

And if art isn’t about people and humanity, then what is it about?” (Hazel Tilley,


Blackrock Community Garden

October 25, 2015


Gardens are hubs that connect people…the landscape itself can be an ongoing art piece, which when managed by creative people, can serve as a kind of lab or platform where ongoing experiments with biomaterials can be carried out and the public engaged in wider aesthetic discussion as well as encouraged to participate in the site’s ongoing stewardship….The idea that people can just follow their creative impulses I think is very important, because that is what human society is based on: people’s ability to fulfil creative and compassionate impulses… (Oliver Kellhammer in conversation with Sharon Kallis, Common Threads: Weaving Community Through Collaborative Eco-Art)

Blackrock Community Garden is located in County Louth, Ireland. It is composed as a layering of horticultural crops (vegetables, orchard fruits, and herbs), combined with an edible field hedge (hazel nuts, rose hips, hawthorn berries, blackthorn berries and crabapples), and cottage garden floral displays (hollyhocks, roses, sweet peas, geraniums, foxgloves, etc.). The garden enhances both the ecology of the community while also supplying fruits, nuts, and herbs that can be harvested by local residents. Additionally it acts as a refuge, a place apart from the built up environment, a chance to be surrounded by the vitality of nature. The close proximity of the garden to residential areas, a playground, schools, and an outdoor gym means that it is situated within the heart of community life. Since its inception four years ago, residents of all ages have developed an affectionate embrace of the garden, cultivated from neglected land.


A dedicated group of volunteers maintain the garden, always inviting newcomers and families to join them as they continue to develop new features, garden spaces and seasonal activities. Irish customs and folklore associated with particular times of year are celebrated through the course of garden processions, nature crafts, land art, and rituals that involve residents of all ages. Local schools have developed groups of guerrilla gardeners that have initiated new garden areas incorporating herb, flower and woodland themes. Public education workshops are also available on a range of topics from composting and vegetable gardening to tree planting and mulching with natural materials.


Perhaps the most essential aspect of the garden is its therapeutic nature. A garden that is always there when you need it (close at hand and freely available) relevant to the needs of local people. New residents find friends through garden volunteering and seasonal celebrations. Social contacts are generated amongst the generations as senior citizens mentor adults and children in a range of gardening skills. Families visit with autistic children, toddlers roam to find mint and willow huts, and school children use the outdoor classroom space for art and nature study. Horticultural skills and creativity are shared with generosity, as part of the garden’s cultivation of grassroots social networks. There is overall a sense of enthusiasm and a belief that shared resources are the foundation of community living.


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Edible Estates 2007, Fritz Haeg, Brookwood House Estate and Tate Modern

Fritz Haeg, Information and Bio

Today’s towns and cities are engineered for isolation, and growing food in your front yard becomes a way to subvert this tendency. The front lawn, a highly visible slice of private property, has the capacity to also be public…. An Edible Estate can serve to stitch communities back together, taking a space that was previously isolating and turn it into a welcoming forum that re-engages people with one another…. Food grown in our front yards will connect us to the seasons, the organic cycles of the earth, and our neighbors. The banal lifeless space of uniform grass in front of the house will be replaced with the chaotic abundance of biodiversity… Edible Estates takes on our relationship with our neighbors, the source of our food, and our connection to the natural environment….We grow a lawn the same way anywhere in the world, but when we grow our own food we have to start paying attention to where we are… In becoming gardeners we will reconsider our connection to the land, what we take from it and what we put in our bodies (Fritz Haeg, Edible Estates).

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There comes a time when we wish to liberate all our food-growing opportunities from the tyranny of lawn control…So we plant the front lawn. You are now a member of the Popular Front. You are an urban farmer and your house is another link in the chain. Every new farmer who plants their front yard creates an outpost in the campaign to feed the city of the future. You are making a statement that we are what we eat and we eat where we live (David Tracey, Urban Agriculture)

Garden and environmental activists David Tracey and Fritz Haeg both campaign for the cultivation of front lawns as edible gardens, replacing unproductive lawns with vegetables, herbs, soft fruit, and fruit trees. The curbside appeal of the edible estate garden is its location as both a domestic and community food source. The visibility of the garden replaces the uniformity of square lawns, inviting neighbours and pedestrians to engage with private gardens as interactive community landscapes that can develop social networks of local gardening enthusiasts. The potential of the front lawn to be transformed into edible growing, can make the idea of urban agriculture a reality.

For Haeg this is an artistic project, the installation of edible plants as materials to create truly cultured horticulture, that has at its core idiosyncratic aesthetics reflecting the character of domestic plots of land. Daring to break the rules of conformity, deciding to ‘go wild’, to garden beyond rows, and to choose nature as your guide, is a courageous decision. Fundamentally you are asserting your independence. You have become a free spirit generating a gesture of hospitality as you share your creativity, knowledge, plot and edible crops with others.



Photos: Edible Estates, Fritz Haeg

North American Facts on the Quest for the Perfect Lawn

1. North Americans dump ten times more pesticides per acre on lawns than farmers on croplands.

2. It costs more money per acre to maintain a lawn than to grow corn or rice.

3. Some 40 billion dollars was spent on lawns in North America in 2005 – more than the continent gave in foreign aid.

4. Phosphorus runoff from excess lawn fertiliser contributes to algae blooms in rivers, lakes and the ocean that kill fish.

5. Thirty percent of the water used on the East Coast of the US goes to water lawns.

6. An estimated seven million birds are killed in the US each year by lawn pesticides.

7. An estimated 75 000 Americans are injured every year from lawnmowers, about the same as for guns.

8. The average homeowner spends 150 hours a year maintaining his lawn.

(Ted Steinberg’s book Specifically American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn quoted in Urban Agriculture by David Tracey) 


Urban Agriculture: Ideas and Designs for the New Food Revolution by David Tracey

David Tracey

Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn by Fritz Haeg

Fritz Haeg Website



The Herbal Commons, a symbolic ‘field hospital’ located next to the Dromiskin Credit Union (County Louth), is inspired by the People’s Apothecary in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The People’s Apothecary is an organic garden collectively cultivated as an environment for learning, discussion and social action.  It is a garden that benefits the health of the environment as well as the well being of the community. “The People’s Apothecary is a herb garden, a commons, a sculpture, a model for creating self-reliant communities, and a relationship with our selves, the earth and each other” (S. Zapf, The People’s Apothecary, Canada).

In Dromiskin, The Herbal Commons has a relationship with the neighbouring credit union, as its ethos relates to co-operation and a belief in the sharing of resources. One of the original aims of the credit union movement in Ireland was to promote better standards of health. A credit union is a collective resource; its belief is working together for the benefit of the entire community. A community garden is a reflection of these beliefs, an example of how many hands can achieve greater results when working towards a common aim.

The medicinal garden is an interactive garden, a place for the community to learn about traditional cures and the social history of Irish wild plants and herbs. The Dromiskin Herbal Commons is a collaboration between community members of all ages. The inter-generational element of this garden facilitates cooperative learning, the sharing of Dromiskin’s cultural history, and the creation of a new landmark that incorporates the skills and visions of children and young people.

One of the unique features of Dromiskin’s medicinal garden is its cultivation in relation to St. John’s Day. Historically this day, celebrated on one of the longest days of the year, promoted the well being of land, crops, animals, and people. The smoke from the St. John’s Day fires offered protection for health, growth, and the harvesting of potential abundance. Particular restorative herbs were thrown into these special fires to accelerate and strengthen intentions for good will amongst the entire community.

St. Peter’s National School in Dromiskin has a copy of the 1938 Irish Folklore Commission’s report pertaining to Dromiskin, which lists a number of unique traditional cures used by the local community. This report, documenting the folklore of Dromiskin, was collated by the principal of the primary school at that time.  It will be a reference for the medicinal garden, propagating the past into the growth of the present day community.

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As well as places for ecological environments, biodiversity community gardens are spaces for social gatherings. Biodiversity is a relationship between different kinds of life. Communities are composed of relationships between people of all kinds, reflecting the meaning of biodiversity as a collective life force.


Decorations reflect individuality, and can be used to symbolically reflect special times of the year, community events. or public planting events. Decorations provide colour, evoke imagination, and provide a creative opportunity for people of all ages to make their mark within the common grounds of everyday life.

Community gardens are studios for collective expression. They accompany children and adults throughout the seasons, as an interactive space for creativity.

They are spaces for artworks developed from growing art materials. Branches, leaves, stems, seed heads, and flowers can all be used for art making. Experimenting with these materials can develop tactile artworks that eventually decay within their outdoor locations.

Decorations can also be produced with wool, bunting, fabric, painted stones, knitted garlands, children’s toys, flags, ribbons, etc. They particularly highlight the Celtic seasons, with their rich symbolic content.


For example, the tradition of the May Bush for Bealtaine, is a rich symbolic element  that embraces the agricultural history of Ireland. Decorating hawthorn or rowan branches, as well as Irish trees and bushes with egg shells, ribbons, pieces of fabric, etc. for the month of May, is a reflection of the importance of the growing season for Irish farmers. The May Bush is a symbol of protection, fertility and abundance. It is placed in front of the home, along with hawthorn and rowan branches distributed across doorways and windows.


Decorations bring spontaneity to the activities of daily living. They appear unexpectedly, and enhance the magic of gardens and life itself.


The photos were taken within the Biodiversity Children’s Garden at Blackrock Playground. 

IMG_4222Mutual Ground is the title of a project offering mentoring to members of Louth Tidy Towns Together, interested in learning about community biodiversity gardens. To mark the European Year of Citizens, social activism and active citizenship will be prominent themes within Mutual Ground’s agenda. Mutual Ground encourages communities to explore local distinctiveness, and to develop local democratic involvement. It is inspired by the UK charity Common Ground (, which underlines the importance of environmental celebrations as a means of improving local pride and community participation.

To celebrate this year’s theme for National Tree Week (A Feast of Trees), the forest garden at Blackrock Playgound in County Louth will be profiled as part of Mutual Ground’s activities. A new school forest garden at Dromiskin National School is also being developed to further explore the benefits of cultivating naturescapes within school grounds.

The Louth Tidy Towns Together website includes a training journal called Mutual Ground, with topics covering biodiversity gardening, special events, and green schools.


Biodiversity can be created through gardens which include wildflowers, native plants and trees. These gardens are also potential gathering places for intergenerational events, and the marking of important environmental dates (i.e. Earth Day, World Environment Day, Biodiversity Week, etc.). Biodiversity incorporates people into local networks for nature. Gardening for nature is a means of improving not only the ecology of a community, it also helps to shape the character of the social landscape. Creating interactive social spaces, rooted in cultivating native plants and trees, inspires a true collaboration between people and the natural world.

The following poem was written by Fourth Class students attending Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire, Ardee.

My Wonderful Garden

Alone in my garden watching the wonders around me.

I see the birds flying, the squirrels running and climbing.

I smell the grass, fresh air and flowers.

I hear the birds, the wind surrounding me and the laughing of children next door.

I feel the grass at my feet, the wind blowing at my neck.

The nature in my garden is my own personal wonder!

Two primary schools in County Louth, St. Peter’s National School (Dromiskin) and Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire National School (Ardee) have celebrated the traditional Irish festival of Bealtaine during the course of planting flowers for biodiversity. The tradition of decorating a May Bough (a branch of Rowan or Hawthorn), to bring luck to new gardens growing in Spring, has been re-enacted by students from both schools.

To mark the occasion students of St. Peter’s National School planted bee and butterfly friendly flowers in their intergenerational garden and outdoor classroom. They also lighted a flying lantern to symbolise the Bealtaine Fire. This lantern was lit during lunch time, and the students hoped it would travel to Newfoundland, Canada where descendants of Irish immigrants still decorate May Branches to protect new crops and celebrate the warmth and sunlight of the growing season.

In Ireland the month of May has long been celebrated to mark the start of new growth,  longer days, warmth, and the return of new leaves and flowers. It is also signifies the mid-way point between the Spring Equinox in March and the Summer Solstice in June. The time of Bealtaine inspires acts of caring for nature.


Students of Scoil Mhuire na Trocaire National School planted traditional cottage garden flowers at the Moorehall Retirement Village (Ardee, County Louth) to mark Ireland’s Bealtaine Festival, which “celebrates creativity as we age”. The Bealtaine Festival co-ordinated by Age and Opportunity is a national celebration of creativity which takes place during the month of May. Fourth Class students are also decorating rocks to place in the new garden, with words describing biodiversity themes, and also words which together create a feeling of sanctuary and peace.

In her book, Trees of Inspiration, Christine Zucchelli has written about many traditions in Ireland, which mark the veneration of trees. Particular trees have many symbolic associations to pilgrimage and recovery. Often specific trees were closely situated near holy wells, offering cures, sanctuary and the possibility of overcoming personal challenges. Adorning these trees are pieces of fabric, or small personal tokens of appreciation, left behind to acknowledge the tree’s potential to transform maladies into well being. Leaving something of one’s self behind also honours the spirit of the place, a space in nature set aside from everyday life. A small personal offering in exchange for good health and good luck, represents how a tree may take on the afflictions of both body and mind. Certain trees were considered mediums of transformation, with their ability to absorb all kinds of troubles and offering in their place, a certain level of contentment and health. Ireland’s cultural history has a link to the reverence of trees, which offer refuge and renewal.



St. Peter’s National School (Dromiskin, County Louth)  is making a home for bees and butterflies in the garden surrounding their outdoor classroom. This garden is a laboratory for students to learn about biodiversity. It is a habitat for bees and butterflies, as the nectar from cottage garden flowers, flowering shrubs and wildflowers feed these vital pollinating insects.

The garden was planted by the students of St. Peter’s National School to celebrate the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations 2012. This garden celebrates traditional flowers; it is a living history portraying the colourful variety of flowers typically enjoyed in the past. St. Peter’s National School and Dromiskin Tidy Towns are encouraging everyone in Dromiskin to make bees
and butterflies feel at home by planting flowers in their gardens. By welcoming bees and butterflies into our gardens, we are not only propagating our heritage, but also planting for our future.

Biodiversity gardens in schools contribute to emotional fulfillment, inspiration, environmental activism, solace, creativity, language, psychological and spiritual well-being (ENFO Ireland).

Children’s relationship with nature also enhances their concentration, conceptual understandings of the world and develops their communication skills through teamwork.

The Hedge School, Bee and Butterfly Garden Plant List:

Ceanothus (California Lilac), Tree Mallow, Valerian, Forsythia, Achillea (Yarrow), Tree Lupin, Viburnum, Broom, Verbena bonariensis, Spirea, Rudbeckia, Buddleia, Scabious, Sedum, Elecampane, Hollyhocks, Foxgloves, Lilacs, Nepeta (Cat Mint), Apple and Plum Trees, Asters, Chrysanthemums, Verbascum, Teasel, Rock Rose, Monkshood Flower, Purple Leaved Geraniums, Teasel, Salvia, Nasturtium,s, and Sweet Peas.

A new intergenerational garden in Blackrock, County Louth was planted to celebrate the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations. Blackrock Tidy Towns hosted a creative afternoon of family activities at Blackrock Playground which offered children the opportunity to plant a traditional flower garden, hear stories, poems and music, and make Spring kites and greeting cards. Designed by members of Blackrock Tidy Towns, the new cottage garden will create a colourful habitat for bees and butterflies. Traditional cottage garden flowers offer a rich supply of pollen and nectar, creating vital ecosystems for beneficial insects. The intergenerational garden is an interactive garden, a collaboration of many ages working together. It is a place where adults and children can create a growing relationship together.

The intergenerational garden is part of a series of gardens being created in County Louth under the heading – Growing Through the Ages. This project is supported by Louth County Council Environment Section and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Its purpose is to promote intergenerational community gardens designed  and planted by children and their elders. These gardens highlight County Louth’s role as an Age Friendly County within Ireland. Growing Through the Ages supports active ageing and community leadership by linking the valuable experience of older people with the ideas and aspirations of children.