What is Guerrilla Gardening All About?

Guerrilla Gardening is about brightening up the environment and transforming neglected areas. Nathan James Dodd has been discovering how people take it upon themselves to plant flowers and tend shrubs in the most unlikely environments.

Created by David Coton on Wednesday, 26th of August, 2015.


I don’t know whether it still happens but Birmingham City Council used to lay green tarmac on traffic islands where grass wouldn’t grow. 

This was either inspired or a comical attempt to replicate nature.

We’re talking about the 60s and 70s, when concrete was king and tarmac his ever willing assistant. But times change, and if you now notice formerly abandoned areas that boast floral riches, it may be the work of Guerrilla Gardeners.

These activists, who are a mixed bag of people from keen gardeners to others who want direct action against the status quo, cultivate neglected or abandoned land. They don’t own the plots but replace environmental decay with shrubs and flowers. 

A Long History

Modern day guerrilla gardening can be traced back to 1960s San Francisco and New York, but surprisingly enough comparisons have been drawn with ‘The Diggers’ in 17th century England. 

This group of dissenters were ‘agrarian socialists’ who took over uncultivated land and used it for agriculture. Their aim was to form egalitarian rural communities and to disrupt the existing social order.

Although laudable, it’s probable that most present day guerrilla gardeners just want our surroundings to look pretty, even if the wasteland, verges and empty spaces they beautify represent a wider social malaise. 

Their activities are not really cloak and dagger material, some guerrilla gardening takes place during the day, planting bulbs on traffic islands, bedding plants around the base of a tree or larger scale landscaping projects.

Local people generally approve. Shared community spaces are revived without having to badger the council, who wouldn’t be particularly interested anyway. And who would complain if their barren inner city area suddenly bloomed with colour?

Worth the Risk

Technically it’s illegal, the perpetrators may even get a buzz from breaking the law for the first time in their lives, but what council is going to put a stop to an activity that improves people’s lives for once rather than blighting them.

The essentials for guerrilla gardening are fairly basic. Good quality footwear for starters, bags and sacks are also necessary to carry away anything you’ve dug up. Then you need hardy plants, tough enough to thrive in harsh surroundings.

Plan carefully, recruit friends or like minded people through social media. And don’t forget that any plot needs continual looking after, you have to be prepared to water regularly (which means carrying it there rather than having the luxury of a hosepipe).

There is certainly some criticism within the gardening community concerning whether guerrilla gardening is ‘meaningful’ or just a quick fix by middle class idealists who see it as little more than a jape.

But, on the whole, I think if you ask anyone whose street has been transformed from Desolation Row into All Things Bright and Beautiful, they’ll be appreciative of the guerrilla gardeners’ efforts.


 

Related Articles

How To Attract Wildlife To Your Garden

How To Attract Wildlife To Your Garden

In order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our wildlife, there's a selection of habitats and boxes you can purchase that are specifically designed to attract various small animals and insects to your garden. Here we look at some of the products available which also make unusual and very engaging gifts.

Author: Robert Hall

Written by Robert Hall.
Published on Monday, 23rd of April, 2018.

Take Part In The Big Garden Birdwatch

Take Part In The Big Garden Birdwatch

On the weekend of 30 – 31 January it will be your chance to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch. David Hall was one of half a million people who took part last year, recording a vital snapshot of nature in the UK.

Author: David Hall

Written by David Hall.
Published on Wednesday, 27th of January, 2016.

Horticultural Facts and Figures

Horticultural Facts and Figures

With all the numbers from yesterday's budget in mind, David Coton has been looking through some statistics in relation to the horticultural industry.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Thursday, 9th of July, 2015.

Container Gardening

Container Gardening

If you have a small garden, courtyard, or no garden at all, container growing might be the perfect way to fill your outside space with some of your favourite plants. David Coton considers timber and stone containers and how best to use them.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Monday, 11th of May, 2015.

comments powered by Disqus

Author

David Coton

Partner at GardenSite

View Profile

RSS

View RSS Feed

Follow Us!

Recent Articles

What To Do In The Garden In November

What To Do In The Garden In November

David Coton suggests that there are plenty of gardening jobs that need to be done in November, from why you shouldn't throw away your fallen leaves to how to take care of your vegetable patch.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Friday, 27th of October, 2017.

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

Plants To Introduce Colour Into Your Home This Christmas

As winter draws in and Christmas beckons, indoor plants, floral and foliage decorations assume greater significance. David Coton suggests how you can transform your home with the colourful interest of seasonal plants.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Tuesday, 23rd of October, 2018.

How Easy Is It To Keep Chickens?

How Easy Is It To Keep Chickens?

Chickens aren't difficult to look after, all they require is a constant supply of water and regular food. As Martyn Loach explains, you should keep an eye open for any ailments, and they'll need to be cleaned out once a week.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Monday, 15th of October, 2018.

How Do I Construct And Maintain Timber Garden Decking?

How Do I Construct And Maintain Timber Garden Decking?

Timber garden decking never seems to lose its popularity, and why should it, when it's such a useful way of extending your living and entertaining space. Andy Taylor explains why decking is so easy to install and how best to look after it.

Author: Andrew Taylor

Written by Andrew Taylor.
Published on Thursday, 11th of October, 2018.