Guerrilla Gardening - Reclaiming & changing our landscapes

Update: Tuesday, November 4th

In a recent article published on the Guardian online, Guerrilla gardening has come under some scrutiny.

Guerrilla gardening has been in the media spotlight for a while now and has been viewed by many as a radical response to the decay of urban land.

As a concept accepted quickly by the nation’s newspapers and magazines, a topic such as this is always going to cause controversy. So much so that Botanical Surveyor and Artist, Martin Allen has spoken up about the issues associated with the latest craze.

Allen more or less asks the question, is Guerrilla gardening a sign of failure? Is it perhaps a sign that there is a breakdown in the functioning of the local community?

The popularity of this gardening craze raises questions about the urban environment and whether members of the community feel too isolated and ignored to speak to local councillors about their issues.

The act of Guerrilla gardening itself is argued as selfish and secretive as it adopts a non-community feeling. By the same token, there is no saying where this will end as people could be encouraged to interfere with other places in their local areas.

The article gives favour to community horticulture but argues that Guerrilla gardening could be damaging long term. But what do you think? Could this be an overreaction to this popular craze or do you agree with the points raised? Let us know!


Guerrilla gardening is a craze that is sweeping the nation. It’s fast becoming a popular pastime that you may not have heard of but could well be happening right under your nose...

Have you ever noticed a small patch of dirt in a crack at the edge of the pavement suddenly spring fully grown flowers? Or maybe a crumbling brick wall has started to grow a selection of herbs from the holes in its profile? If you have, then these locations may have been subject to guerrilla gardening!

This green fingered activity typically involves the selection of a patch of land that seems to be uncared for by its owner. This land is then transformed by gardeners, often under the cover of darkness, who decorate the space with flowers and other plants.

While the covert and secretive practice of guerrilla gardening is sometimes (but not always) technically illegal, many are coming round to the idea that these spaces need to be looked after, if not by the owning local authority, then by the local community themselves.

The idea behind the projects is to give some life to unloved outside spaces, while bringing a smile to unassuming passers by. But it is important to note that some guerrilla gardeners have been reported to the authorities for alleged trespassing. So it’s not a hobby for the faint of heart!

The Secret History of Guerrilla Gardening

The term was first coined in the 1970’s, when the Green Guerrilla Group from New York took it upon themselves to transform a derelict plot of land into a beautiful garden. It left a longstanding legacy and is still cared for by local gardening volunteers to this day.

But the resent surge of guerrilla gardening has uncovered a secret history that dates even further back to 1649. Gerrard Winstanley, the religious reformer and political activist founded a group known as The Diggers, who took over privatised locations and planted bushes, hedges and crops. Winstanley’s actions were in retaliation and protest to public land being taken over by private organisations.

Then in 1801, famous missionary and gardener John ‘Appleseed’ Chapman instigated his own brand of guerrilla gardening by introducing apple trees to parts of the USA, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and West Virginia.

Undercover Gardeners of the World

The most popular resource in the UK is Richard Reynolds’ blog Richard began guerrilla gardening in London back in 2004 and launched this website to document his undercover adventures and offer advice to budding gardeners.

More recently The Pothole Gardener has ‘sprouted up’. Here founder Steve Wheen aims to change the way we think about those dreaded cracks in the road. Potholes across the country have been filled with everything from carnations to miniature chairs, daffodils and dolls.

In Australia, thriving vegetable gardens have been created on the wastelands between railway lines and other spaces. These unusual food sources have been of great benefit to locals when food prices and the cost of living has started to rise.

Fun Examples of Modern Guerrilla Gardening

The longer guerrilla gardening goes on the more adventurous the planting has become. Some have cropped up in skips, filled with soil and topped off with bedding plants. Broken drain pipes have been decorated with grasses and foliage and abandoned cars now have sunflowers emerging from the boot.

Whichever side of the fence you sit on this subject, you can’t deny the spaces have been transformed for the better.

So next time you are taking a stroll in your local area, maybe you could be on the look out for some potential new flower beds that are waiting to be transformed. But if you’re not that brave, why not begin in your own back garden and start spreading some seeds.


Andy P

This is such a great idea! Make a nice change to see flowers not just derelict land.

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