Guerrilla Gardening

Along with allotments, kitchen gardens and other antiquated ideas, gardening the local bit of public space has now become fashionable apparently. Except, like every good re-make, it has been re-branded ‘guerrilla gardening’ and is no longer the hobby of the old boy who tends the flowers on the train platform but is the underground (excuse the pun) activity of 20 and 30 somethings.

The essential idea is to turn the drab piece of neglected (usually council) land into something beautiful.

My first (and so far only) foray into guerrilla gardening was when I was about 11. The bus to school went past a roundabout devoid of any feature beyond some scrubby grass and my friend and I plotted to change this. A tree was bought (a nice conifer – I forget what species). My elder brother was brought into the scheme (we weren’t really old enough to wield spades effectively) and operation Tango Romeo Echo Echo was born.

At 6.30am on a Saturday morning I got fed up of waiting for my brother and woke him up (subsequently I am convinced that he had a hangover). We crossed, what was by 7am, a busy road and swiftly planted the tree in the middle of the round-about. Several cars went around the round-about several times to see what we were doing but we got away without problems.

I’d love to be able to say ‘and it’s still here to this day’ but truthfully it lasted a couple of triumphant months before I think it got mowed over. If I were to start this activity I again think that I would try to learn from this partial failure. Things I would do differently:

  1. Plant undercover of darkness and when it’s not commuter time.
  2. Give the plants some compost and water to get them off to a good start.
  3. Check out the location before hand… I think there was tarmac under my round-about, which explains why the tree didn’t last…
  4. Not let my accomplice with the spade get drunk the night before.

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