Allan Giddy (from Sydney) visited me in Glasgow on his way from Ireland where he recently had a show. We made a visit to the wasteland site on Bath Street which turned out to be opposite his hotel. Since I had last seen the site a few weeks ago the vegetation has burst into life, and into bloom. Thistle, clover and daisies have taken hold in the site but especially the purple buddleia which towers over you as you enter the site. These plants are synonymous with wastelands in the UK, a good thing as they attract and support a variety of wildlife - their blooms rich in nectar. (They also give off a wonderful fragrance). I remember as a child seeing buddleia completely covered by butterflies, their colourful wings could be mistaken for exotic petals, insect life a natural extension of the plant itself. You don't tend to see so many butterflies these days so perhaps these plants, and these vacant lots can do their bit to support urban biodiversity.
I asked Allan if buddleia were also found in Australia. He didn't think so. I explained that in the UK people bought these plants in garden centres, and yet they are freely available in derelict sites across towns and cities. It's similar to the way in which people seem to be happy to pay supermarkets for blackberries rather than picking them for themselves. Alan described the process of people paying for things as the process of "making it real". This struck me as having some some grain of truth. Perhaps we could open all of these sites out as public gardens, and to make them 'authentic' to the visitor we could sell potted plants carefully removed from the sites, for people to plant in their gardens at home.