What is Guerrilla Gardening?

The weather in the UK has been mad recently. We’ve had 14 degree days that wouldn’t be out of place in early May and we’ve had blankets of snow falling in the space of a few hours. Either way, Spring is quickly approaching. That means one thing to Vauxhall City Farm: growing season!

As the warmer temperatures begin we start to see the beautiful colours of wildflowers and the greens of trees beginning to resurface. Who can’t resist taking a photo of the pale, pink blossoms on a cherry tree?

So why not, this year, indulge in something a little risque? Are you prepared to go rogue and spread some joy to people in your area? Do you have what it takes to be a guerrilla gardener?

A what? I hear you say. A guerrilla gardener!

Guerrilla gardening is the act of gardening on land that the gardeners do not have the legal rights to cultivate, such as abandoned sites, areas that are not being cared for, or private property. It may sound a little too much for some and that’s absolutely fair enough. What’s more, there are some that take guerrilla gardening to the political level and choose to do so, in order to make a statement. For the purposes of this piece, I talk about guerrilla gardening for the purpose of spreading joy and helping out some animals and environments in dire need.

Is this legal?

Errrr…technically no, due to the lack of permission obtained. But, has anyone ever been prosecuted for guerrilla gardening? The answer is also no. The motivation of specific cases of guerrilla gardening are often the driving force behind whether people support it or not. If you are spreading some seed or planting some bulbs to beautify an area or improve air quality for example, then not many people are going to object. If, however, you plant a row of adult oak trees through the proposed route of a trainline or housing development, then you may find some more vigorous upset.

What does guerrilla gardening look like?

For some, it’s simply spreading seeds in areas in need of a bit of TLC. For example, here at the farm we have our own seedballs. These wonderful little innovations are clay balls that hide wildflower seeds within them. You simply throw them onto some exposed soil and watch them grow. They absorb water from rainfall and, as they grow, they break out of the clay and take hold in the soil.

Similarly, you could take a look at more organised groups in the area, such as the Edible Bus Stop, who have turned guerrilla gardening into a legitimate enterprise. They help communities create beautiful areas of nature around their bus stops, in order to improve aesthetics, air quality and environmental impact.

Why should we garden in this way?

As much as organised efforts make a huge difference, the positive effects of small, individual actions are even greater. If all people were to spread a few seedballs in their local area, the increase of wildflowers would prove very useful. Wildflowers especially support the lifecycle of our vital pollinators. Bees, butterflies and other animals use them to support themselves and in the process help plants to reproduce, they in turn provide the all-important oxygen for life on earth. The more flowers and other plants we have, the better our planet becomes at processing the quality of our air. Guerrilla gardening could well be a useful tool in tackling even the largest of emergencies, climate change or saving the bees.

Like all things natural, do your research and really think through the ramifications of your impact. But, if the area you live in is a concrete jungle or a sea of preened, relatively unuseful lawns, why not consider helping the environment out by spreading some gorgeous wildflowers. Ensure that the diversity of seeds used is high and isn’t going to poison any local species or pets and then indulge your inner Robin Hood or Che Guevara and literally spread your positivity with Vauxhall City Farm seedballs – even if it’s in a pot or window box.

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