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Facebook Groups and Pagesaround London. It is now a growing arsenal for anyone interested in the war against neglect and scarcity of public space as a place to
Location: Cairns St, Liverpool. Visit: 29 May 2023, Spring 2011. Guerrilla Gardening:  Since 2007. You’ve heard of Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane. Add Cairns Street to the list of iconic Liverpool places. It was destined
to be demolished but resilient, optimistic and resourceful residents saved it and created a street that is an inspiration for all. I first visited Liverpool to inspire guerrilla gardening in 2008 Remarkable Cairns Street
with BBC Radio 3 and in 2009 for Adopt A Plot, but2011 vs 2023 Cairns Street Liverpool
it was a return visit in 2011 when I meet local guerrilla gardeners and Tracey Dunn urged me to visit.
    Cairns Street in Toxteth is lined with Victorian terraces and is one of several nearby (known as Granby4Streets) where most homes Surviving amongst the eviction vs Thriving amongst the renewal
were empty, pending demolition. Residents had been moved away, collateral damage in a central government scheme that crudely sought to stimulate the housing market. In 2011 swathes of my local area were facing demolition too, but whereas the Heygate Estate was later destroyed (despite opposition) in Cairns Street the efforts of locals and shifts of government policy turned the tide.Treasuring Cairns StreetSince 2007 guerrilla gardening had been used as one of several strategies to at least mitigate the worst effects of the housing renewal policy. Planting made the street more liveable for those who had been able to resist pressure to move out. I spoke to Eleanor who was active in the early days. She’s no fan of gardening, she laughed when I speculated it was a pleasure, but she was motivated to smarten up the
Large scale pavement guerrilla gardens outside the many boarded up homes on Cairns Street, May 2011
The Winter Garden 2023 designed by Assemble. Seed swapping in the Winter Garden.
street and make it feel lived in. Painting curtains on boarded-up front room windows, clearing fly tipping, and murals all lifted the spirits together with the gardening were gentle positive public acts of defiance. In late 2011 the informal activity became formal as I was not back in Liverpool again until May 2023, a stopover on a family holiday, so took the chance to once more meet Tracey and Eleanor and see the substantial changes. The street gardening continues, and spreads. I was introduced to Elizabeth and Paul who When I visited in 2011 the contrast between dereliction and the fresh spring flowers was stark but also resoundingly optimistic. What has flourished since, against the odds, is very inspirational, regardless of the odds you may face.
residents formed the Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust. In 2012 the council'slive in neighbouring Beaconsfield Street and five years ago adopted the alleyway thatturnaround in several streets, two down from Cairns Street dereliction and dispute remains
plans stalled and the Trust were able to propose details for an alternative path: renovation. Eleanor described how her world became intensely focused on the street,  co-ordinating locals and drawing in experts to make permanent an alternative vision. The architects Assemble saw potential for affordable homes from what remained, and a way of giving the homes some new characterful details with ceramics from a new local studio business, and even a Winter Garden social and creative space from a ruined property, winning the Turner Prize in 2015 for their work.runs behind their street and Cairns. They cleared rubbish and pot by pot filled it with 
with a leafy assortment of donations, bargains and passions. As well as regular pots anything is used as a container. People know to donate anything that can contain soil Elizabeth told us. When plants outgrow their pots they sell them at the local street market, an event that also emerged as a guerrilla activity. Eleanor raved about the ongoing efforts of her neighbour Hazel and about ten other residents who beautify the streets. Ducie Street is entirely derelict, a dumping ground, wilderness. The day we arrived a mural of protest about the stalemate of renewal had been white-washed away.  But poppies were also springing up, Tracey thought they were likely the offspring of a meadow she had sowed in waste ground opposite – bright beacons leading the way for what is hopefully more great renewal. There are no boundaries. As we drove onwards on the bank holiday evening we spotted more suspicious gardening, so stopped for a chat and had confirmed it was a new guerrilla garden near Earle Road.
Elizabeth and Paul's Alley Garden behind Cairns Street
Mature guerrilla gardens thrive on Cairns Street. Ducie Street remains in ruins. Flytippers and wild flowers compete to colonise the space
Location: Goyang & Seoul, Korea. Event: 28 April 2023 Guerrilla Gardening:  1 May 2023
A wonderful opportunity to return to Korea came from the Goyang International Flower Festival who asked me to speak to their audience of professional and enthusiastic gardeners as part of their impressive and playful show of gardening and floristry. Unlike flower festivals with pretend mature gardens, this was mostly transitory gardens. The prevalence of containers there mirrored Koreas inspiring gardening culture of using containers - anything - and fitting them into public spaces. Cities in Korea are densely built, flats are the norm, and so like my family many have no private garden - at best a balcony. So Inspiring Korea at the Goyang International Flower Festival.
the public space is colonised instead, typically the back of the pavement. I had time to explore Seoul and, like in 2012, I marvelled at the endless and often playful pot plants outside homes, and businesses: ornamentals, edibles, annuals, shrubs, the permutations were plenty. Given it was 1 May while I was there - (International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day of course) - I found some containers that needed some TLC, and planted them up. Like previous forays into
far-flung guerrilla gardening (Tripoli, Beirut, Moscow - see YouTube), it can’t be about ensuring
a flourishing success, but it’s a chance to feel a closer connection with a place, and sometimes trigger a conversation too (an invitation into a Libyan ‘Youth Club’ for example. I planted both at night and day in different parts of the city, both quiet areas when I struck. Perhaps they will flourish, but even if not, it’s an alternative trinket to a padlock on a railing.
Guerrilla sunflower sowing in SeoulInternational Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day
Pavement Pots of Seoul. Follow Richard Reynolds on Instagram
More pavement pots of Seoul
BBC Radio DevonPippa Quelch asked me back to her afternoon show in March 2023 for an update. Discover Plymouth’s infamous guerrilla tree chopper.Listen again to our rambling chat and a previously unrevealed royal tree.
Getting Out. Starting Over. From Elephant and Castle to Castle Street
Castle Street Pocket Park and Richard Reynolds. Photo by Jason Ingram for Gardens Illustrated September 2021
My life has changed a lot over the last few years. A growing family, new home 
and new community as I left Elephant and Castle in 2018. We moved to another
house without any garden, and with neglect on the doorstep! Starting over again
has been great fun, but this time I’ve not blogged, I’ve just chatted, tweeted
and tried to answer questions when people ask me ‘what’s up?’ Like many guerrilas I’ve met around the world, eventually I had to move away from the landscape I loved, thankfully confident that my favourite patches were in dedicated hands of the many amazing people who solider on there. Guerrilla gardening is not just for urban jungles as readers of my book and blog will know well. I now live in a lovely country town in South Devon, almost infamous for being a hot bed of alternative living, a calmer space after 20 years in London and the exhaustion from comprehensive redevelopment of my old neighbourhood. But there is neglect despite the fresh air, and many people trying to sort it out, both as guerrillas and with a stamp of approval.
 I first guerrilla gardened in Totnes with my dear Grandmother(See video)
Later, when visiting I met Diana and Anne who are guerrilla-spirited community
gardeners here, and full of encouragement. Then we moved. I have mostly
focused on opportunities along my street (one with a real Castle on it this time,but no Elephant. My mission here is for residents and visitors to#LoveCastleSt
In October 2021 Gardens Illustrated visited and documented my progress. It is a
vindication for what we do to have a guerrilla garden given the glossy spread, following on from their curisoity with a printed profile, a decade earlier
You may spot a great chunk of time missing from this blog between the previous post and this one. That news gap may one day be filled, meanwhile you can catch up with regular guerrilla activity on Twitter @Richard_001
 Location: Brick Layers Arms Southwark, London. Guerrilla Gardening:  15 Dec 2015. From time to time businesses get in touch looking to do something together. It usually doesn’t make sense, but when Co-op Bank (who I’ve been a customer of for about ten years) said they would like to celebrate people who went about improving the world a bit differently, it sounded like a good idea. I chose a new place, one I’d been eyeing up for a while, and suggested weCoop Digs In
sort it out. Their resources funded a dramatic change over one very soggy afternoon and evening with the help of Lyla, Niloufer, Zoya, Andy, Paul, Chris, Silvano, Liba and Paul. I wouldn’t usually plant in the depths of winter, but the timing required it, and it worked out very well. We added masses of farm manure to the already reasonable soil and planted cyclamen, sweet
box, heuchera, mahonia that would all tolerate the shade. The Co-op Bank have made a TV ad and extended online film about the dig, that not only sells their accounts but I think does a good job to popularise guerrilla gardening. Other #thatsdifferent stories includes our friend Lauren, a guerrilla knitter who has also come gardening with us, Joshua who gives haircuts to the homeless and Graham, a ticket collector who cheers up travellers with his rhymes.
Location: The Elephant & Castle  Roundabout, Southwark, London Guerrilla Gardening: Since 2007 Seeing opportunity and caring for neglected public space is at the heart of what motivates many guerrilla gardeners. That can lead to other campaigns. For 2 years I’ve battled against plans for the infamously nasty and neglected  space which would actually make it more congested, polluted and dangerous for pedestrian because subways have been demonised and piazzas have become trendy however inapporpriate the space.Twists and Tricks. Continued battles against the destruction of public space in the face of Transport for London's mischief, they even pinched this image of our work!
Despite rallying several hundred supporters and our MP we have only saved three trees, no more of the space. This battle has been one against ongoing spin and  manipulation by our Tory Mayor and Labour local council. Their latest mischief is to pretend they are increasing public space when they are infact shrinking it to make way for a wider ring road. The  latest presentation wraps up a bad design in lavish green-wash from
designers Witherford Watson  Man who are, with no irony at all, proposing planting inspired by our local guerrilla gardening! It shows a deep failure to listen to or understand why guerrilla  gardens thrive and why they exist in the area already. I’ve even met the designers but they steamroller local opinion just like their bosses at Transport for London. Our gardens thrive because we care about the land in the wake of an authority who doesn’t. A splurge of millions on new landscaping so far appears to be no more  than superficial decoration for a retrogressive traffic plan, it is short term care, the planting is impractically high maintenance for anything other than a team  of volunteers that they are not  seeking to nurture! TfL’s design proposals are considered for their  short term aesthetic quality not  long term role. Meanwhile nearby where designers are not involved in another better transport proposal I have proposed Transport for London create open ground in place of concrete and let it be adopted
to become a new Nature Super- highway. Perhaps we’ll win this?
Blog Stop Gap 23 September 14Zoya the baby guerrilla gardener
on Twitterand FacebookZoya Reynolds
The little guerrilla pictured here in my shopping trolley laden with tools and plants is a wonderful distraction from the computer and ever so more compatible with being outdoors in the wilds of Elephant and Castle and beyond. We’ve travelled to Australia this year, lectured in Brisbane, met two different groups of guerrilla gardeners in Moscow over Easter, been poisoned by ‘Stalin’s Revenge’ giant cow parsley in Vologda, transplanted our  mobile community gardenShopping Trolley for guerrilla gardening
old petrol stationMobile Meadow
Collaborated with Kew for Grow Wildfilled a pedestrian subway with herbs
Tulip Guerrilla Gardening DayVenice
Guerrilla gardeners have been tending the Elephant and CastleBoris The Bodger
roundabout since 2007Our fights to stop London's Mayor
incident with the policemaking the Elephant and Castle
It’s an area that needs much more improvement than gardening alone can achieve. But after years waiting our mayor and his transport people have unveiled a terrible proposal that will actually make it a more congested place for every single user, some pedestrian journeys will be up to 41% sloweran even more congested, polluted and dangerous place for pedestrians!
with the congestion comes more air pollution - their data tells them too! It’s a thoroughly baffling plan until you realise that what’s behind it is not intelligent traffic engineering or landscape design but a bad combo of politics and fashion. Pedestrian subways are out of fashion - even though here they are busy and a  safer place for pedestrians to be  than at surface level, safe from a collision
I recently discussed the subways at the Elephant and New York's Low Line on BBC World TVThe bodge at the Elephant and Castle Roundabout is a pig's earTransport for London are inviting feedback about the roundabout
a polluted plaza for a new shopping centreElephantandCastleRoundabout.org
Our campaign against the proposals at the Elephant and Castle makes front page news.
Some of the roundabout's best guerrilla gardening moments
Blog Stop Gap: 18 October 13 It’s been a busy season. Guerrilla gardening in Gdansk, guerrilla gardening with Georgian guerrilla gardeners, not to mention the masses of blooms from guerrilla sunflowers, the London lavender harvest and International Tulip Guerrilla Gardening Day. Sorry this is another stop gap, the videos will be edited and the tales blogged later, follow the mildly mischievous activity
@Richard_001. One of the drawsMeanwhile
away from the computer and into the great outdoors has been the  flourishing spin off project, the  Mobile Gardeners’ Park in my neighbourhood. We’ve created growing space on a vacant development site and another new location is emerging in yet another shabby corner of a  Southwark Council estate. Neither are now guerrilla garden, they’re legit, which brings new challenges and opportunities. Oh and a baby  little guerrilla has been born too:  Zoya Reynolds, who shares her  name (unintentionally) with the  guerilla Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya.Guerrilla sunflowers in the middle of London's Old Kent Road sown by Ciaran and Richard in 2012 but blooming in 2013!
Would you like to share your story of gardening against the oddsYou can enter online or by post.
to inspire others to turn to gardening as a way of trying to heal whatever it is you are up against? The Conservation Foundation are inviting entries for their annual Gardening Against The Odds awards. The idea for them came about as a memorial to the gardener and journalist Elspeth Thomson. She was the first to write about my guerrilla gardening and was
both a guerrilla gardener as  well as someone who battled depression.Read the full article online here.Telegraph address

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