OOTS: December Wrap-up & 2009 Review

Many thanks to all of you who contributed to December's Out on the Streets. As expected, most of you showed us pictures of your town or neighbourhood's festive decorations, which certainly helped me to get in the mood for Christmas and I hope you did too. They were such fun, I'd do that all over again, with or without the existence of OOTS :)

As Christmas is well and truly over, I'm not going to summarise everyone's contributions this time, but I'll give all participants a mention at the end of this post. However, I will talk about Helen and Anna up front because they both managed to find some public planting to post against all the odds. Both of their posts show grasses are a major force to consider if planting is to look good at this time of the year. Most magazines show them tinged with frost in their winter features and whilst they do indeed sparkle in that setting, I think OOTS is admirable in showing us what still manages to look good when the sun's not shining and conditions are less than ideal.

When I started writing in earnest about public planting early last year, I asked the question Do We Care About Public Planting? Your response shows that we certainly do. However, I believe in general its profile needs to be raised a lot more and good planting is often delivered against all the odds. The issues involved are complex and are set to become even more pressing as the fallout from the credit crunch takes its toll and our population grows over the coming years.

However, I've been heartened by all your 2009 contributions showing good public planting can be found. I was also pleased to see public space designs featured as some of the show gardens at last year's Chelsea (such as here and here). This is one of the few times when gardening crosses over into the mainstream media, so no matter what you might think of the show itself, it's the main chance we have of getting these things talked about. Another profile raising outcome last year was Maggie's London winning architecture's Stirling Prize. Maggie's is open for anyone affected by cancer, but for me there is no doubt that Dan Pearson's garden designs are not only a key factor in the centre's success, they were also a major help in winning the award.

Here in the UK at least these encouraging signs are set to continue as the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) commenced a major campaign last November called Grey to Green. CABE is the government's advisor on architecture, urban design and public space and have been my richest source of good background material so far. Their initial report, Grey to Green: how we shift funding and skills to green our cities makes for very interesting reading and I've also signed up for the campaign's email alerts.

I'm pleased OOTS will continue this year and I'm already looking forward to your contributions. It's fast becoming a resource in its own right, so I'm also mulling over how to carry it forward alongside all the hundreds of bookmarks on public planting I have yet to consolidate into something more meaningful. I also need to reflect on what you've shown me plus my own discoveries made along the way. I'm anticipating writing some opinion and summary pieces this year, in addition to showing more examples of what I've found. I'm also in the middle of reviewing a book called Parks, Plants and People (about Lynden B Miller's 27 years designing major planting schemes in New York) for ThinkinGardens: that needs to be fed into the mix on here at some point too.

So as far as 2010 is concerned, there's lots to do! The picture's from my last trip to London of a rather jolly van I found, which I also need to tell you more about soon.

December OOTS rollcall:
Petoskystone - no blog, so via Photobucket instead!


  1. Might your OOTS be ready to grow up into a blog of its own? Stand on its own roots now Mum?

  2. Thanks for the idea of OOTS, VP, and all the work and thought you have already put into it. Every single time we venture out, our eyes are peeled for something of interest in the plantings around town. It, OOTS, has made us more aware of our surroundings. Thank you. :-)

  3. i do enjoy the oots tours. 'thank you' for your effortin bringing them all together! next time i attempt a contribution to oots, i might have to look into posting via a blog (for the day:) as photobucket is confusing (never did figure out how to caption anything)& takes so long that i didn't post the more interesting photos.

  4. I kind of like the idea of an OOTS blog. This is such an important issue, especially in places where there are no gardens, such as in cities, where people need all the plant & flowers they can get.

  5. Look forward to seeing OOTS develop in 2010 VP, whatever way you decide to take it forward. The grasses at Chavsasse Park looked both striking and warming on a drab December day and held the planting together. No ideas as to what exactly they are so I am going to do some detective work.

  6. You're right, VP, that these posts help to show what works in different seasons as well as giving all of us some inspiration. The economy doesn't seem to have affected any of our public plantings yet, but it could. In many cases I think volunteers have come to the rescue.

  7. Hiya, Veep. I'm glad you're going to continue OOTS into 2010. Maybe I'll finally find something I can share from my area this year. I've added links to OOTS to the "Memes and Contests for Garden Bloggers" page at Gardening Gone Wild too.

  8. Fight the good fight, VP. Public planting is good for the individual, society, community, and most of all, the earth.

    I like the idea of an OOTS blog, too. Very much.

  9. VP you work hard producing these really interesting posts thank you.

  10. Hi - a number of you have asked about OOTS becoming a blog in its own right. That's something I'm definitely mulling over. It's important enough to merit one in its own right and in my heart of hearts I know it should, especially when I start pulling all my bookmarks together. The main problem is the time it's going to take up to do that. I really need to spend more time out in the real world this year, so I need to find a way that lets me do that, yet still keep a number of blogs going!

    Frances - I'm so glad it's done that; I've found I'm a lot more aware now too!

    Petoskystone - I was touched that you went to so much trouble to join in - thank you :)

    Yolanda - yay! It'll be great to have you joining in :)

    Anna - I haven't a clue with grasses either. I can see the need for a trip to Knoll nursery coming on...

    Rose - that's just it, volunteers and community projects has to be an important part of the solution

    Nan - it woud be fantastic to have you join in. Thanks for adding OOTS over at GGW too - that's such a useful resource you're pulling together :)

    Susan - I need to find the research references to back up what you say. I've found lots of anecdotal evidence, but I suspect the only way to really make a difference at local government and national government levels is to have some good research data.

    Joanne - you're welcome and thanks for joining in this year :)


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