This isn’t your typical real garden. For starters, real gardens belong to someone. This doesn’t. It belongs to the local council, and not the gardener.
But this hasn’t put off Richard Reynolds and his team of guerilla gardeners, who have been surreptitiously tending this plot in Elephant & Castle, London.
Before work started, these planters were strangled with unruly weeds and unkempt plants, but now the beds are vibrant with self-seeding foxgloves, drought-resistant lavender and alliums.
They’ve had their fair share of problems as well. Guerilla gardeners don’t just fight normal garden pests, they are often in combat with the local authorities, and careless pedestrians or vandals. This particular guerilla garden has seen a white Buddleja slashed by the local council, and an attack of BMX riders.
Guerilla gardening is becoming increasingly popular as gardeners in urban areas seek to reclaim neglected land. Groups organise ‘digs’ in their local area which they self-fund, and often perform under the cover of night. Reynolds defines guerilla gardening in his book, On Guerilla Gardening, Reynolds defines the practice as ‘illicit cultivation of someone else’s land’ and this can land you in trouble with officious contractors and local police officers. But that risk only adds an extra frissant of excitement to a moonlit dig on a deserted traffic island or outside a scruffy shopping centre.
If greening your local area sounds tempting, visit the Guerilla Gardening homepage or buy On Guerilla Gardening.
But if the idea of ‘seed bombing’ and planting incognito disguised as a builder doesn’t excite you, there’s still a lot to learn from the guerillas. Their planting and maintenance suggestions are very applicable for owned as well as illicit gardens, particularly given that most guerilla plots are designed to be as low maintenance and hardwearing as possible.
And if you’re beginning to burst at the seams with seeds and cuttings you have collected from your garden over the past year, why not donate some to a local dig? Get in touch with other guerillas in your area through the ‘community’ page on the Guerilla Gardening website, and you could help build a greener environment in your town.
All images Richard Reynolds/Guerilla Gardening