Richard Reynolds has become notorious on the gardening scene for being a green thumbed individual with a knack for breaking boundaries. Following in the footsteps of many before him, he is certainly a leader on the UK guerrilla gardening London scene, and if you were to traverse the city for long enough you would undoubtedly stumble upon tree pits filled with flowers or roundabouts covered with colour. You may even find Richard in the midst of pruning, planting or watering his latest patch.
“I think guerrilla gardening’s important because there are things in life that it’s best to just go and do rather than ask for, guerrilla gardening is about winning people round through your actions, your commitment and demonstrating that the fears which might deny you permission were you to ask, are usually unfounded,” says guerrilla gardener Richard Reynolds. And, if you want to venture beyond the boundaries of your garden, and indeed your conscience, then guerrilla gardening is certainly for you.
Started by Liz Kristie in 1973 when New York’s skyline was quickly towering upwards and leaving little space for flowers and foliage, guerrilla gardening could simply be described as planting up a space which isn’t your own. Whether it’s a tiny tree pit on the street outside your house, a jumbled planter by the local supermarket, or a once cared for roundabout which the council has long since forgotten; take the initiative to pop in a few plants and start caring for them, and you’re a guerrilla gardener. It’s not strictly legal but with thousands of people across the world indulging in this popular pastime, the movement is certainly gaining a huge following.
It’s not at all hard to start guerrilla gardening, and you’ll quickly find that the hobby takes hold. All you need is to notice a small patch of ground that requires caring for, and take action. If it’s a deserted patch of planting once cared for by the council you could start to prune it back and weed the area. A barren tree planter or flower bed can quickly be filled with flowers and shrubs, and the joy is, that every time you pass your thriving guerrilla garden, you’ll be filled with pride that you’re taking action and actually improving your neighbourhood. Don’t spend a fortune on plants, and if you’re already a gardener, simply use cuttings from your own oasis or sow extra seeds with guerrilla gardening in mind. Sowing in situ doesn’t always work as you’ll find that many councils hire streets cleaners who don’t know the difference between a marigold seedling and a developing thistle, and you could visit your patch to find that weedkiller has destroyed the lot. The exception is on Guerrilla Gardening International Sunflower Day (May 1st) and Guerrilla Gardening International Tulip Day (Oct 9th) when thousands of people across the world take to the streets to plant the tiny seeds of great plants to come.
Whilst many in the guerrilla gardening movement opt to head out under the cover of darkness, others dare to plant areas in daylight. Richard Reynolds book, ‘On Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening without Boundaries’, is an inspirational read, and it’s a great place to find do’s and don’ts, especially if you’re a little concerned with venturing out alone. www.guerrillagardening.org meanwhile is the ideal place to head if you want safety in numbers, and you can share tips on the forums as well as find groups to venture out with so you’re not alone and can get a little experience under your belt. And if you follow Richard’s twitter account (@Richard_001) you’ll very quickly find yourself desperate for darkness to fall so that you can take to the streets and expand your gardening boundaries.