Guerrilla gardening: a primer
What is it? The planting of a public space revolution, one seed at a time.
The thinking behind it To reclaim, beautify and improve the public space we live in in the face of runaway urbanization.
Where it started With the Green Guerrillas in New York City in the 70s, who began planting in lots left derelict in front of abandoned buildings.
The best locations to reclaim Since guerrilla gardening is rooted in the idea of taking back the public domain, pretty much any earth that's deemed "public" goes: empty city planters, parking lots, unpaved patches around buildings and along railway tracks. And especially neglected spaces near city-owned buildings. Guerrilla gardening is about making a leafy statement.
Number of sites planted in Toronto so far this year 15
Sites being considered for future plantings The green space off the DVP's Richmond ramp; empty wooden planters in the parking lot north of Queen between Denison and Augusta; the abandoned gas station on College west of Ossington; the parking lot/alleyway behind 402 Queen East.
Who's behind it The Guerrilla Gardeners, an offshoot of the Toronto Public Space Committee (www. publicspace. ca), who have been organizing night-time plantings.
Is it illegal? Technically, yes, gardening can be considered trespassing. But cops haven't busted gardeners when they've stumbled upon them. The city's parks and rec department is also on record as supporting guerrilla gardening on a philosophical level, so they won't object to a few strategically planted begonias in front of city-owned buildings, right?
What other cities are doing Taking the "guerrilla" out of gardening and promoting the greening of public turf. Vancouver has a Green Streets program that encourages residents to adopt boulevards and other public areas for planting.
What to plant Flowers, fruits, veggies and trees that are drought-resistant and shade-tolerant. Regular watering of plots scattered across the city is usually not an option.
Benefits Besides improving air and water quality, guerrilla gardens beautify and may also revitalize the environment. Certain legumes, like lespedeza, for example, are good for restoring acidic soil. Rye is good for stifling weed growth. Angelica attracts lots of bees. Camomile is said to increase the essential oil content of nearby plants.
Planning a guerrilla garden attack Make sure to select the right kind of plants for the site you're considering; ascertain that the soil is rich enough to encourage growth - if not, bring compost; determine that the site is well drained and protected enough so that Fido doesn't soak your green dreams. It's a good idea to plant flowers, trees, shrubs and veggies that complement each other to encourage growth and ward off disease. Most importantly, never plant species that are non-native, since they tend to choke the life out of everything around them. And, oh yeah, water them now and then.