Guerilla Gardening

Something deep inside me wants to be a world-changer. To go beyond the comfort of my own existence, and do something out of the ordinary, perhaps even extraordinary. This doesn't always sit comfortably, it implies effort and the extension of oneself. To make a difference beyond the boundaries of one's everyday, and sometimes mundane existence, requires a new way of thinking and the willingness to be a doer. Some of the time I wish I was content with being run-of-the-mill, it would be easier.

Boundaries are set all the time for what we can achieve. Sometimes they are tangible, but at other times they are difficult to define (yet just as limiting). There are perceived boundaries posed by gender, ethnicity, and place of birth, legal boundaries (property boundaries, bylaws) and self-imposed boundaries (the "I can't do that" or "I won't do that, imagine what the neighbours might think"). So a world-changer is someone who is willing to challenge what is acceptable, the "status-quo", to achieve what others can't or won't.

And that is where, on a much more local scale, "guerilla gardening" has so much appeal to me. Thinking about the ways I might expand my garden beyond the confines of this 350 square metre lot - extending the garden into my neighbour's, the verges, the local school, areas of unkempt and weedy wasteland. I was trying to coin a phrase to encapsulate this philosophy when the words "guerilla gardening" came to me.  Eureka! Clandestine, perhaps sometimes even illegal gardening, but for the common good. 

So I have to admit when I googled "guerilla gardening" I was a bit crestfallen to see it was already a global phenomenon! Check out or or the global GG community

There is even a guerilla gardening book, and an "international sunflower guerilla gardening day". And guerilla gardening is happening in London, Korea, New York, Australia, Denmark, and the list goes on.

So what about me? As I write this I look out the window at a native shrubland in the local primary school. It was a muddy and forlorn slope  until I approached the principal and offered to design the garden, order the plants, and lay them out for planting. The principal agreed, and several hardy staff members turned up on a miserably cold and wet winters day to plant. Now, only a few years later, its the wildest part of the school grounds. The tallest trees are about three metres tall, there is enough dense cover for the children to make secret tunnels, and the birds are returning. So if you don't like your view, even if you don't own it, why not see if you can change it?

This success, and the realisation that I am actually a part of a growing  global army of guerilla gardeners, has got me thinking about where to next. I have just noticed several dumped trailer-loads of topsoil in an area of wasteland, wedged between a local road and the motorway. The soil is so good I am shifting it by the bucket-load to the most impoverished of my vegetable garden beds, but even after doing this, there will be plenty remaining. What crops can I get away with growing there? Would any plants get sprayed by road maintenance contractors? If I plant beans or pumpkins there in the Spring, will they stay there longer if they are in rows (so its looks orderly and cared for), or in random patches so they blend with the surrounding weeds? I won't invest a lot of time there, and I have low expectations that I will be the one to pick the crop, but I will give it a go. I think dwarf beans are my best bet - quick growing, inconspicuous, they wont need watering, and I could be harvesting eight weeks from sowing.

So is anybody else out there boxed in by houses and limited by space? Yearning for a bit more land to grow space-invading crops? Why not think extend yourself and look beyond your boundaries? World changing, probably not. But I reckon its a start.