Five years ago I became a guerrilla gardener. I stepped out into the world to cultivate land wherever I liked. The mission was to fight the miserable public flowerbeds around my neighborhood. Until then I had always lived, more or less, on the right side of the law.`I had recently moved to a high-rise flat on a bleak roundabout in south London – an area notorious for its labyrinth of pedestrian underpasses, garish pink shopping centre and traffic volumes to rival Britain’s busiest motorways. It is the kind of environment that drives people to crime. My crime was gardening on public land without permission and battling whatever was in the way.
Even when one has permission, cultivating a garden is always a fight. We cut back one plant to allow another one to flourish; we scatter seeds, but we rip up weeds and snatch away flowers and fruit before their seed has dispersed. Our gardens are scenes of savage destruction. “Animals uproot, frosts cripple, winds topple, rains flood. The guerrilla gardener shares this constant battle with nature with other gardeners. But we have other enemies and ambitions.
This handbook has been compiled from my experience of guerrilla gardening and that of guerrilla gardeners around the world. Radical and reticent, active and retired, successes and failures – they have all shaped these pages. I have also drawn on the documented advice of ‘conventional’ guerrillas, whose analysis of strategies and tactics can be applicable to our fight. The debate and instruction goes well beyond gardening. To succeed a guerrilla gardener needs to know more. Do not be daunted: read on.
(Header: Richard Reynolds at work)