Gardening by stealth

I never meant it to be a political act; I just wanted to improve my daily walk.  For years I would walk one kilometer from my home to the high school at which I taught.  On my walk I would pass by the yards of dozens of homes, some with beautiful gardens, others quite drab and plain.  In the late summer, when flowers began to go to seed, I would reach from the sidewalk and grab the seeds from one yard and then deposit them in the neglected gardens of another.  The easiest were hollyhocks, morning glories, and marigolds.  The following spring, I would look for (and usually find) the results.  Some of recipients of my distribution must have been displeased as I would see the new plants dug up and removed, but most plants were left to grow and bloom.  Some even became my source for the seeds of next year’s walk-by gardening projects.

I have also been known to prune the odd bush or hedge who’s owner has allowed it to grow out over the sidewalk.  I deal with such projects gradually.  Each time I walk by, I casually reach out and snap off a single twig.  I do so at the exact point where it invades the space over the sidewalk.  One bush in particular required an entire summer of daily dog walks to conceal my stealthy pruning.  I probably shouldn’t do this, but I hate brushing against a hedge on my walk and getting soaked by the dewy leaves.  There should be a general rule that people should plant their hedges at least a foot and a half from sidewalks to allow for overgrowth.  And they should be trimmed yearly.  If only I were King.

Apparently, there is a name for what I do: guerrilla gardening.  It seems there is an entire movement dedicated to bettering public spaces with greenery and flowers.  Check out the guerrillagardening.com website to see some great examples.  I am planning my next guerrilla gardening project at this very moment, but the details are still secret.  I will, however, post updates.

If you want to read about a very cool, secretive gardening project completed on a giant scale, read about 14,000 tulips that were planted (in a little over an hour) on a patch of public land in Toronto.  Impressive, but I think they cheated (using an automated tulip planting machine).

A mysterious 100 metre long patch of tulips planted surreptitiously along the north side of Kingston Road, Toronto.

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