When you hear gardener, what is the kind of person you imagine? A slight, hunch backed old lady? Maybe she wears a wide brimmed hat to keep the sun from her face. She wipes the dirt on her apron, gently folding tulip bulbs into the newly softened soil. Or maybe you picture a middle-aged man, a farmer, blue jean overalls and a flannel shirt? Chances are the person you’ve imagined doesn’t look young. They aren’t a student, or graduate. They aren’t a business person, they don’t have time for such things. Or do they?
Being a gardener implies a few things. That you own a piece of land on which to grow, and that you have the funds, time, and strength to make it happen. This is not a reality for many people. Still, when we take a stroll through the park, when we have time to take the scenic route home from work, when wild flowers pop up in the shadows of trees, and color blooms on the hedge, we suddenly realize that we’ve been missing something. We all appreciate the beauty that flowers and plants bring to our lives. They hold a power over us. When they are absent, when concrete takes their place, it is disheartening, but that doesn’t mean you should take it lying down. Anyone can garden.
Guerilla gardening is a type of renegade planting that requires nothing but seeds, initiative, and creativity. It’s based around the idea that wherever you see a blank space, you fill it up with life. Industrialized areas with high human activity can often be void of color. Don’t waste time seeking permission from your local council just for them to turn you down. Just dive in and make it happen. Better to ask for forgiveness than permission.
My boyfriend and I put this to the test in our own neighborhood. We’d noticed a rise in the amount of litter. We live in a lower income part of town, and it was our theory that this weighed on the minds of the people who live here. You tend to become what people expect of you. To counteract this, we wanted to give the area a face lift to show that we take pride in where we live, bringing a little happiness.
This is what we’ve done.
All in all, we spent around $20 on our project, because we bought full grown plants. It was an investment well worth it, but of course buying a cheap packet of seeds works just as well. A future post on how to create your own seed bombs will be coming soon.
Since our flowered areas have gone up, we have been stopped on the street by dozens of people praising us for what we’ve done. We litter pick the area weekly, and we have noticed a distinct drop in activity. This simple creative act has made a visible change in the attitude of our friends and neighbors. We’ve planted in public spaces of course, and our greatest fear is that the council will rip up or mow over what we’ve planted, but it hasn’t happened yet. We plan on hitting more spots around town to spread the idea.
Be a rebel, and try guerilla gardening out for yourself. Be a gardening bad ass and take charge where you see there is failure. Take every empty green space and turn it into something beautiful. If all you have is concrete, turn it into color. Build some flower boxes and make your neighborhood bloom.