"Guerrilla gardeners" sprucing up London by night

Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:14pm EDT
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By Rebekah Curtis

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - They defy the power of the state with raids under cover of darkness using grenades, slingshots and surreptitious sprinkling in an all out war to beautify the British capital's neglected public spaces.

London's "guerrilla gardeners," armed with spades and trowels, are behind a number of the floral displays on the city's roundabouts (traffic circles) and roadside spaces.

They often operate in the dark of night because they are gardening in public spaces without permission from governmental authorities who don't often take kindly to their interference.

"I will do it at night or when it's pouring with rain," said Richard Reynolds, founder of website www.guerrillagardening.org and author of "On Guerrilla Gardening."

"When it's a new location it's better out of hours. You're less likely to have confrontation with a contractor," said the 32-year-old, whose job is in advertising. "You don't know what's going to happen."

Some participants start operating in daylight as they gain confidence, he said, and add their own touches to the city when no one is looking.

For weeks, one city worker has been sprinkling thousands of wild flower seeds in the capital during his daily walk to work, because he wants to brighten up the city, he said.

The term "guerrilla gardening" arose in the 1970s, when New Yorker Liz Christy set up a group called Green Guerrillas to garden in neglected public space.   Continued...

<p>'Guerrilla Gardeners' plant flowers on a spot of urban wasteland in south London April 22, 2008. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico</p>