Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guerrilla Gardeners

Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.
~Henry David Thoreau

I’m talking about troops that have waged a war on ugly! A war to beautify neglected and abandoned hidey-holes or forsaken weed patches around their neighborhoods and cities. Not all communities have the resources to beautify unused pubic spaces, so this is a great way for gardeners to plant a face-lift for all to enjoy. This could even be a way to revitalize or reclaim a neighborhood that has seen its share of turf wars, and I mean the real thing here.

Guerrilla was started as a grass-roots effort to beautify London. Now gardeners all over the world have been inspired to turn to guerrilla gardening to spruce up their communities and it is documented on this website. Click on the ‘troop digs’ tab to see the handiwork of the troops at large. You can even find if there is a regiment in your area planning the next coup!

You can be sure this idea has got me looking differently at my city’s weed patches and cracked concrete medians. I think this is a great idea, but I must caution all of us to be responsible to choose seeds and plants that we know are NOT invasive species. For example English ivy (Hedera) and Kudzu are vines brought into the USA from overseas that are now choking out many of our native species. Both contain seeds that are eaten by birds and spread around via their system of air mail. Be careful which plants you choose and be informed of how they spread before your warfare begins.

Our city randomly puts up concrete road blocks installs roundabouts in various intersections and leaves it up to residents to care for them. As you can see some are well tended.

This one, on the other hand, needs a covert operation. Credit must be given to the effort made, there are some tulips actually trying to emerge even after the out-of-control 4X4 added its imprint to the topography.

Maybe somehow a handful of annual purple poppy seeds will accidentally scatter themselves on it this week.

How about you? Are you a guerrilla gardener? Do you intend to become one? Have you ever engaged in hand-to-dirt combat under the cloak of darkness to beautify a public space? Oh, do tell!

In bloom in my garden today: primrose, hellebore, Corylopsis veitchiana (Winter Hazel), daffodils, skimmia, Mahonia repens (Oregon Grape), Tulipa turkestanica, heather, Rhodendrons, Clematis, Hyacinth ‘Blue Jacket’, Muscari (grape hyacinths)

 Author’s photos


Shari B. (FitFeat) said...

Hi Joan! OK, avian air mail -- totally made me laugh out loud!! Love it!

Can you believe people who drive through grass and plantings, like the median you show? We live on a corner lot and we've had people drive cars or trucks through our yard TWICE! And it leaves horrible marks that take forever to go back to normal. Who raises these people is what I'd like to know??

I admit I am NOT a guerrilla gardener, but mainly because I would probably accidentally plant things that "invasive species" as you mention (I have a few invasive things in my yard that need to be removed.) But I certainly enjoy admiring what others do in local "common areas" and greenbelts.

On an unrelated note, I see a MiniCooper in one of those roundabout photos! Is it yours? :)

Joan said...

Hi Shari!
Wow have you got a good eye or what?? Yes, that is our mini!

And no I can't believe how many corner lots I've seen that someone with huge tires drove across someone's grass or even once they plowed into a garden toppling over a vine planted arbor! People around here end up putting huge boulders on their grassy corners which seems to either stop the problem or cause enough damage to the vehicle they somehow feel vindicated??

Thanks for writing!

Tracy Zhu said...

I love this concept. I saw some extreme examples in China last year, like this one I don't practice it myself there isn't much need for it in the rural area I live in, but I fully support the idea!

Joan said...

Thanks for stopping by Tracy and thanks for the link to your post on guerilla gardening China style! I'd love to see it!