Gurerilla Gardening in London - A Page from the old NYC LizChristy Playbook.
- Subject: [cg] Gurerilla Gardening in London - A Page from the old NYC LizChristy Playbook.
- From: email@example.com
- Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2006 11:09:29 -0500
It's kind of interesting how things go across the "big pond," like English
Rock and Roll and now Guerilla Gardening.
Lord help me, I really like the idea of gardening as a subversive activity -
glad that it's working that way in London these days.
British guerilla gardening: http://www.guerrillagardening.org/.
Secret Gardeners Go Under Cover in London
Guerrilla Gardeners Goes Global With Their Public Greening
By ZOE MAGEE
March 21, 2006 - - Late at night on a deserted street corner in a residential
part of London, a young man looks shiftily at both sides of the road, to the
left, to the right, before trotting to the traffic circle lugging a large
garbage bag. A friend joins him. An accomplice, perhaps? The scene looks more
suspicious as a crowd gathers, many with long sharp instruments in their
hands, all moving furtively.
This was the scene last Thursday on Westminster Bridge Road in southwest
London, a rebellious rendezvous of unusual extremists -- the guerrilla
gardeners -- who were about to attack. They dug up the patchy earth, the
motley-looking shrubs and weeds that the local council offered as decoration,
and in their place entrenched a neat line of lavender bushes, bulbs soon to
bloom full of color, and a few other strategically placed plants. It took 16
of the renegade horticulturalists two five-hour night shifts to upgrade this
island of urban decay.
"It's about brightening up peoples' lives, and it's about putting a bit of
green and flowers and happiness into the gray areas of London," says Camilla
Maxwell-Morriss, guerrilla gardener by night. They have struck several times
across England's capital and hope the trend will spread to other cities around
the globe, and to some neglected spots in the countryside too. (The group's
first international member lives in rural Spain.)
The phrase "guerrilla gardening" was actually coined in New York in the 1970s.
An artist living on the Lower East Side became horrified at where children
were playing -- in deserted lots scattered with garbage. Liz Christy tackled
these wasted spaces by "bombing" barren- looking land with seed grenades.
After some initial success, she formed a group that became known as the Green
Guerrillas. Its footprint remains in New York today, at the Liz Christy Bowery
Houston Community Garden. Construction on a neighboring plot forced the garden
to close two years ago, but it plans to reopen in June. A 2002 agreement
between the city of New York and the state attorney general's office calls for
the preservation of the Liz Christy Garden in its entirety. The garden can be
found on the northeast corner of Bowery and Houston streets.
Thirty years later, the seed that Liz Christy planted has taken root across
the Atlantic in London. Richard Reynolds, the founder of the U.K. version of
the intrepid gardeners, is quickly gaining recruits. But the group's green-
thumb activism has also met with a small thicket of complaints.
"I think they could probably say I was a vandal, but I am vandalizing with
plants, so hopefully they won't think it's too destructive," says Reynolds.
The local authorities, however, are not too impressed with Reynolds' antics.
One local councilor tells ABC News, "We do think it's a bit silly; the idea of
people going around doing it on council property. We don't appreciate people
Nevertheless, many residents appreciate the efforts of Reynolds and his
horticultural collaborators. While the BBC filmed the group in action, several
passersby reached out and said thanks. "We think it's wonderful what they're
doing," said one elderly local. To learn more about the Richard Reynolds'
Green Guerrillas group, visit their Web site:
Copyright ) 2006 ABC News Internet Ventures
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