Started January 2010 [by Jack Thurgar]

This is a scrapbook dedicated to the study of London's weeds and the wild places where they grow. Wildcornerz also looks at the languages, cultures and mythologies that develop in these cracks.

What is a Wildcorner?

A Wildcorner is a term referring to a gap that has been left to grow wild in the city. The term encompasses every wild piece of land no matter the size, from large disused sports grounds to small patches of commercial wasteland, to a crack in the pavement. As long as this gap in the man made landscape harbours some kind of weed, then it is considered a Wildcorner.

Wildcorners and Wildcorridors* are dotted all over the capital and vary in content, depending on their location and history. One thing most have in common, is that they are normally restricted in someway from public access or boarded off and hidden from public view altogether. In this blog we focus particularly on the Wildcorners of south east London.

* Wildcorridor; a word used to describe a channel or pathway that runs through an urban landscape, which facilities the propagation and growth of weeds. This includes railway sidings, rivers and canals.

Urban and Suburban Weeds

By the term 'weeds' we are of course referring to the cities wild plants and flowers. But their are also two other weeds that grow in the city.

'Graf' like its botanical relation, has many families and strains. Both of these weeds can often be found together, sharing many qualities including their adaptive nature and unregulated status. Both in many cases, originally entered and populated the city using the railway network.

Another 'weed' that historically flourishes in London is invisible and uses the tops of tower blocks to propagate. Pirate radio like its weed relatives, grows away from the public eye and is constantly adapting to exploit these same gaps across the cities FM radio spectrum, fighting and flourishing in-between the commercial stations.

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Monday 11 February 2013

From the Ashes - LNM - Kidbrooke SE3

Last Friday, I was joined by my friend Sam on a walk along the quaggy's banks. As it passes through Kidbrooke's South Western corner, we saw something that intrigued us. 
 The old Willow Country Club, that now stands in ruin after a fire that savaged the building years ago.  I remembered I had been there once before, at my Schools 'end of A-levels' party back in the late 90's. I had pretty much forgot it was there.
 We stuck to the edge of Weigall Road sports ground, as we followed the river through the fence. We found a point where the fence disappears into the ground and the river is thin enough to jump over. This spot is known to some local people who use it as a cut-though from a nearby estate.
 On the other side we climbed up through the trees and came out at the far end of the clubs old playing field, now virtually marshland.  
The building looked quite foreboding standing facing us across its grounds. Its burnt out shell was covered in layers of graff and years of weathering.
 As we approached, I tried to read some of the lettering at the front and then something caught my eye through one of the gutted out windows on the ground floor. 
Something white. 
We stayed calm and carefully negotiated the bog infront of us with our heads down. When I next looked up i was near enough to see, and my heart leaped. I could see it was him.

Many types of urban weeds thrive in places where fires have destroyed man made habitats;
Rose Bay Willow Herb was carried on the breeze down the railway lines into London and settled in bomb sites and on derelict land, preferring scorched earth.
Another plant that grows well on this type of land is Fireweed, which grows best on soil that is still warm from the remains of burning fires. 
Both of these plants were rarely seen in the city until WW2. The sudden areas of wilderness and burnt land created by the bombings of the Blitz, gave both these plants the perfect conditions for their takeover of the capital.
The Rosebay’s purple bloom became a symbol of hope amongst the devastation, new life growing from the darkness. It is said that by the end of the war almost every bomb site in London was awash with these two bright flowering weeds.

               “Human tragedies of our paranoid cultures, raids
                 and terrorist outrages, are natures opportunity.”
                 (Sinclair (2010)