Guerrilla Gardening might sound like a violent organisation of angry activists that transform innocent gardens into a state of anarchy, but it’s in fact a movement set out to beautify and combat derelict neighbourhoods. If the Duchess of Cornwall has participated in harvesting guerrilla lavender, you know it’ll soon reach an empty plot near you.
Guerrilla Gardening, which by definition is illicit gardening in public spaces, brightens up neglected urban areas in need of a flower injection. The movement started in the 1970’s in the States, and has now spread far and wide.
During our RatedPeople.com tour of Scotland we met with the co-founder of Glasgow Guerrilla Gardening, Darren Wilson. Originally initiated by the Guerrilla Gardening guru Richard Reynolds in London, the movement spread to Scotland when Reynolds wanted to take on projects up north. All of a sudden, Glasgow had its first Guerrilla Gardening cell.
The first guerrilla site was set up in Townhead, north Glasgow, 3 years ago, and it’s still cultivated by volunteers. Guerrilla Gardening relies completely on its members, donations and funding, so it’s not an easy project to nurture. Although it’s technically illegal, Darren says the council in Glasgow has been fairly supportive and that it has on occasion donated flowers to the group. As the council doesn’t always have the means to maintain all potential garden plots, Guerrilla Gardeners can instead take ownership of abandoned lands and spread their green influence on neighbourhoods that lack lush spaces. Residents are usually appreciative, however vandalism does occur and sometimes plants get stolen or trashed.
Darren, who’s had no formal training in gardening or horticulture, but is simply passionate about the cause, says that Glasgow Guerrilla Gardening is currently on a slow burner. It’s not easy to coordinate with members that have full-time jobs or families and have already a busy schedule. In fact, it seems that time is the challenge of Guerrilla Gardening, not the fact that it’s seen as illicit.
What Darren is spending time on now however, is another green project. The design company he set up, called Kabloom, ties in with Guerrilla Gardening and the movement’s motto to ‘fight the filth with fork and flowers.’ Kabloom develops and produces Seedboms (another aggressive name), which is a ‘friendly bomb exploding with flower power’. The mini grenade has received plenty of positive press, and it’s not difficult to understand why.
Made up of recycled paper turned into pulp, organic compost and fertilizer, coir (a natural bi-product from coconuts) and seeds, these eco-bombs are not only environmentally friendly, they look the part too. Even if you don’t own a garden, you can grow a sunflower in a pot on your window sill by planting a Seedbom. Or if Guerrilla Gardening appeals more, you can throw it over a fence and beautify a rough patch. Currently there are 4 different seed mixes but Darren has more products in the pipeline too. Watch out for the LoveBom, BeeBom and ThymeBom, which would make great little gifts. For this time of the year the Christmas BasilBom (available soon!) is a given.
With bloomin’ good ideas, it won’t take long before neighbourhoods go from grey to green when more and more people discover the benefits of sprucing up their tired communities.
Darren’s top tips in finding the perfect Guerrilla Gardening site:
1. Don’t cultivate a space that’s too big, it needs to be fairly manageable
2. See the potential in the site, you’ll need to come back and maintain the plot
3. Invest in low maintenance flowers that don’t cost too much or need too much attention, pansies are perfect
4. Ask the council to donate compost and flowers as you’re helping them nurturing a part of the city landscape
If your own garden and grounds are starting to look derelict, get in touch with a gardener on RatedPeople.com. Post your job for free and up to three quality, local tradesmen will contact you to quote. Read their previews customer reviews and pick the one who is right for you. When the job’s finished, don’t forget to rate!