Guerilla Gardening is my latest obsession. It’s on a very short list, somewhere behind pesto but way ahead of scattegories.
I first heard about it in an article in the NY Times. They had a picture of gardeners, illegally planting in Los Angeles. Did you know L.A. was originally named El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula? Talk about a mouthful! Imagine saying “oh yeah, I have a friend trying to make it as an actor in El pueblo de….yadda yadda blah blah Rio de la blah blah smackety smack”
I got a book about Guerilla Gardening for Christmas, but it was mostly what was already on the website. Thanks though, Santy Clause!
The idea is simple: improve an otherwise unkempt public space with plants. The assumption is that the state is bankrupt, so why not beautify your own neighborhood, since they’re light in the $$ areas these days.
So back in November of 08, I decided to give it a go. I had two areas to focus on. Attend to some River Birches at 800 Main Street, and then plant something at the exit off Ellington Parkway near my house. I’ll write about the exit sometime soon.
One of the greatest assets of River Birch trees is their beautiful bark.
At the old Bank of America building at 80o Main Street, there were 3 mature Birches that had not been trimmed in years. This allowed for a lot of lower growth that blocked a view of the bark.
Seeing an opportunity, I went with my big limb loppers and spent 45 minutes or so making these trees shine again. I was a veritable Edward Scisscorhands, except without the akward suburban teenage gal at my side who’s never going to win her father’s approval.
As I was working my illegal magic, lots of folks stopped by to see what I was up to. They thought I worked for the building. No, I said, I’m just doing this b/c it needed to be done.
They were mostly a drunk lot, b/c it was a saturday after 11 am, so they found this most agreeable and affirmed me in my venture. One man thanked me becuase he rode his bike by everyday and was always pistol whipped by the overhanging branches. Maybe he said branch-whipped, I can’t remember.
I didn’t know what to do with the branches, so I left them thinking they’d be picked up by metro disposal at some point. I learned a very important lesson on Guerilla gardening that day.
Clean up your mess, slacker.
You see, there’s a lot of wind in my neighborhood. Well not more than other neighborhoods, but it’s more noticeable b/c there’s an excess of litter that blows with it. These 3 massive pile of branches sat there for months collecting trash like a spider’s web. I would drive by, thinking of who had a truck I could borrow to clean the mess I had made in an effort to make things more beautiful.
I was spared the guilt when a good natured group of concerned citizens cleaned up a couple of weeks ago in preparation for a massive Main Street planting effort.
But Metro has to check the status of old irrigation equipment. And we have to get lane closures from the police, and The sherrif’s office will let us know when they can help with the weed removal….and etc, etc.
And this is how guerilla gardening gets going: it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission.