Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gardening In Urban Spaces

Good Magazine has two related articles concerning gardening as a subversive activity. The first, Horticulture Jamming discusses how Cadres of illicit horticulturists, equipped with hoes and shovels, have been venturing into the [London] night to plant guerrilla gardens -- carefully landscaped areas in the small open spaces that cities build to beautify the landscape but then so often leave fallow. The movement, cultivated [cute, heh?] online by 30-year-old Richard Reynolds, . . . has spread throughout the United Kingdom . . . . Missions require reconnaissance, strategy, and stealthy gardening, and each successful planting strikes a blow for a more refined metropolital aesthetic.

The second article, Parlor Park explains that Verde Coalition, a Los Angeles non-profit turns grim scraps of public land -- like bus stops, traffic meridians, or dangerous street corners -- into welcoming public spaces. In Los Angeles, where many low-income communities enjoy almost no park space, a new "living room" cheaply and quickly creates a mini-sanctuary from the fast-paced and sometimes ugly reality of the city. The article describes how the addition of a few benches and flowers to an empty lot induced locals to hang out there, making the drug-users and prostitutes who had been using the space look for other locations.

I'd love to do some guerrilla gardening within the context of a ritual, maybe charging the plants and other objects before doing the actual planting so that they could release peace, healing, pleasure to the surrounding area. Perinnial herbs would be great, as they'd come back year after year, will grow even when neglected, and often provide food for bees and butterflies.


Karin said...

speaking of urban gardening, did you see this piece in the Times? OK, he's a cranky old guy, but what a great gardener!

Anonymous said...

In D.C., you could put in a mimosa and it would re-seed itself until the end of time.

Here, Lady Bird Johnson began planting wildflowers in the roadside greenery, we have beautiful Indian paintbruses, bluebonnets, evening primrose, painted daisies, and coreopsis, many wonderful flora.

from Ruth

Thalia said...

Wow. Now that is Good Work. I wonder if there are any Guerilla Gardening divisions in New England?

Inanna said...

This is the greatest idea I've ever heard.

chicago dyke said...

i wish i had the time to do this. there is a risk, too. i'm a black woman, so i can't help but wonder what would happen if i came across some amped up cop in the middle of the night, hoe and flashlight in hand. "um, i'm... feeding the worms, officer?" but yeah, it's a totally great idea and i can think of about a zillion places that could use it.