Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Guerrilla Gardening 101

Over the years, as I’ve learned to split, multiply and transfer perennial flowers, I’ve often thought that it would be fun to be able to take excess or even unwanted flowers from your garden and replant them somewhere in your neighbourhood – like at the edge of a small woodlot, at entrances to walking paths, in ditches… areas that are never tended to by city workers that usually grow very weedy throughout the year. I’ve day-dreamed about creating fun and colourful designs of flowers along grassy slopes that parallel some inner city train tracks. I’ve shared these ideas with a few people.

One friend told me that I was becoming a guerrilla gardener! I looked at him in surprise cuz I had never heard that expression before – I thought it was hilarious!!!! and my imagination put me into camouflaged clothing crawling under fences, throughout the city with a shovel in one hand and a bag of flowers in the other… sneaking around with an evil laugh, “BWAAaaahHHaaAAHH!!!!!!” as I planted flowers EVERYWHERE!!!!

According to the dictionary… guerrilla – member of a small independently acting group taking part in irregular fighting. I laughed again!! Well, if a person acting in a group of one taking part in irregular fighting to inspire a billion people to do the same so that we can make this world a more beautiful place for others, qualifies under that definition then maybe you could in a humourous way say that I am a guerrilla!!!

Just a few days ago, I brought this inspiring idea to life. I had been planning it for many months – this was my first act as a guerrilla gardener and I have two more that I’m hoping to create in the next few weeks. My first job was choosing a location. My first choice was easy; there’s a long sloping ditch along a winding road that many people drive along, including me – once a day on my afternoon highschool bus run… so I’ll see it everyday!!!

A fellow bus driver offered to give me all of his day lilies cuz he is soon going to be doing a little construction in that same area so his flowers had to go. I was very glad to take as many as I could dig up… which was a lot! Many are now very happy in my home garden as well as my ditch garden!!

I dug them up in large clumps of roots, so my next task was to separate the roots into smaller clumps. I didn’t want to spend my time along the ditch doing this chore so I did it ahead of time. By the time this task was done a large amount of soil had fallen off the root tubers and this was a good thing cuz my load was now a bit lighter… a lot lighter!

I dumped the loose soil into my day lily patch and I put the divided plants into a big bag, grabbed my shovel, string, centre stick, camera… and I was off on my first mission!!!!

As you can imagine, many cars drove past me while I was planting my flowers. I chuckled inside thinking about how many of them would be driving by again, over the next several months, to see my design grow. They’d drive by and suddenly point and say, “HHHeeeyyyyy!!! We saw that dude wandering around in that ditch a few months ago…hhmmmmmm.”

At one point this gentleman was walking down this hill and he stopped by me and asked me what I was planting. I held up a day lily root tuber and said, “Some pretty, orange flowers!” He told me that two years ago he had begun to spend time picking up garbage along this ditch. One day, every Spring, he would bring a big garbage bag and he’d fill it with all the things that people continuously throw out their car windows. He expressed that his eyes had really been opened to see all the garbage that our industries create.

He walked past for a few moments and then stopped. He yelled to me as he proceeded to walk into the ditch to retrieve a yellow shopping bag, “You have inspired me to do this task right now!!! I’ll pick up garbage and you keep planting flowers!”

His yellow bag filled quickly with Tim Horton coffee cups and donut bags, McDonalds french fry containers, lots of Coke cans, windshield washer containers, plastic oil containers… and more coffee cups! Good thing that he happened to find an empty large garbage bag caught in the branches of a tree, so that he could continue his work!!!

I had spent the last two days, completing other tasks in my home garden and my back was a bit sore from this sudden burst of labour. Boy! Was I achin’ after this task was done!! The ditch is on a slope and this made my work even harder. I walked back to my car doing small bends from side to side to try to ease the tightness… I hope that no one saw!

I relaxed in my backyard with Joanne, when I returned home, and I played a couple of my songs softly, to fill in the spaces between the breezes. The work was finished and I continued to enjoy the sun.

Jo’ warmed some of her homemade chili – with tomatoes from her mom’s garden, locally raised beef and a sprinkle of cheese. It was delicious! My appetite became satiated… until my next expedition!!!


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