THE MODERN MINT BLOG
Today we want to share with you the book On Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening without Boundaries by Richard Reynolds, who like us also took part in the Chelsea Fringe this year.
“The reason I became a guerrilla gardener is because I love gardening.”
What better reason do you need?
The term Guerrilla Gardening was coined in the 1970’s by a New York artist, Liz Christy. The ‘Green Guerillas’, as they were known, began gardening on abandoned lots – to beautify the spaces around them, for food, for the health benefits, to express themselves (this was New York, after all) – but what it also sparked was a community of followers that was as much about the people working together as it was about the gardening.
Not all of these benefits are as intangible as ‘guerrilla gardening helps people express themselves’ – businesses thrive in areas where land is cared for, because people spend more time in beautiful places. Property prices must surely go up to…
“There is a lot of unloved land in London, much of it owned by local authorities. Perhaps they have too much to know what to do with it – they certainly put it to poor use… choosing to cultivate someone else’s neglected land is taking responsibility where others have not.”
This argument is wonderful – by positioning guerrilla gardening as a resource, how can a local authority object to it? Trusting in people and encouraging those who have the energy to do the work for you (and to a higher standard!) you not only save money but foster better relationships with people. What is wrong with letting go a little, in trying to achieve a ‘victorious landscape’?
Throughout the book Richard speaks in the language of the guerrilla – gardening on land where you don’t have permission to garden is about going into battle, spades become weapons and seeds are missiles to be fired – “let’s fight the filth with fork and flowers” is the battle cry!
The second part of the book turns into a manual for how to be a guerrilla gardener, with lots of advice on how to deal with people who object to what you are doing (or are just curious), what tools to use (“start with a small metal fork”), what clothes to wear, which plants to use and the fun of gardening with seedballs.
“I do not wait for permission to become a gardener but dig wherever I see horticultural potential… the potential for creating beauty and productivity in the landscape.”
That is why guerrilla gardening should be encouraged.
To buy the book, or others that are related to guerrilla gardening, go to Amazon by clicking the links below!
And this is Seedbombs by Josie Jeffery, another important figure in the guerrilla gardening/seed freedom world… not our most favourite book, to be honest, but she is worth knowing and following too!
Making a new topiary out of the large, dull facade of a Taxus blob… My work was to change it up from a ‘jelly drop’ shape and give it texture, open it out and let the light through, and make it a sculptural feature in the background of the garden in summer… yet a major part of the garden in winter. A few more years before it becomes something special, but there was far more leaf and growth inside the plant than I thought and so it will not take too long for it to gain in character and become …
Two weeks ago I was invited to teach topiary at the garden of Griselda Kerr, the author of The Apprehensive Gardener. I love teaching and sharing skills, but I was placed on the spot in the afternoon and asked to show how I would make a new topiary from an existing shrub. So below is a speeded-up video of me creating a cloud-pruned topiary from an old boxwood tree. I particularly love the ending when the class get involved….! See the video here. One hour was all it took, and though it needed a little tidying-up, it was made by …
Charlotte Molesworth, my topiary mentor, and I are running our popular topiary workshop again in 2022. You can email me for details – or go here for information, your ticket and to find out about dates. Book A Spot On A Topiary Workshop, September 2022