Seeds of Change is an ongoing investigation of ballast flora in the port cities of Europe which has been realized for Marseilles (France), Reposaari (Finland), Dunkirk (France), Exeter/Topsham (UK), Liverpool (UK), and Bristol (UK).
Reposaari was at one time the major port of Finland and ballast material arriving there was used as landfill to build up the island. Two hundred samples of earth from ballast sties were collected from the homes of local residents. Ballast flora grows abundantly throughout this small community whose residents have become interested in their non-native plants.
Soili Tuukki has several ballast plants growing in her garden. Some have sprung up naturally; others have been the results of bartering with neighbors.
In the middle of Eero Raesma’s garden, a solitary exotic ballast plant stands regally. Towards the back, large areas are covered with ballast flora.
Vekko Andersson’s house lies along what had been known as the London Road, which had been a temporary road built to transport ballast material from the docks to the other side of the island so that it would provide the foundation material for the construction of London Villa, built by the owner of a dock in the port of Reposaari. Along the way, ballast material spilled from the wagons and plants grew where one would not think to look for them, since they were so far away from the original ballast areas. The road has long since closed but Vekko pointed out that the ballast plant Chelidonium majus, originally from Asia, grows well there.
Samples of earth taken from ballast sites were germinated and placed in a greenhouse in the Taidemuseo (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Pori. Each sample exhibited at the museum was labeled with the name of the garden’s owner. This became a meeting place for sharing information between the residents of Reposaari and Pori and the scientific community. (Since ballast flora grew freely in Reposaari; a ballast garden project would be redundant.)