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TalksWelcome. This blog began in Oct 2004 as a record of my illicit cultivation
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
It’s 14 years since guerrilla gardeners in Brussels founded International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day as a collective action on 1 May when individuals and groups optimistically sow seeds in neglected public spaces. In these changing and challenging times of social distancing and lock down it is still possible to continue this tradition  without risking anyone’s health, but by just taking the usual risks guerrilla gardeners accept of gardening places without asking - which frankly is a little simpler with less people  about! The usual benefit of chit-chat with passers by discouraged. No gathering! Our  intention is to leave sunflowers growing in our wake, gestures of joy to cheer us all up.
Please share the idea, share what you do and tag the results GuerrillaSunflowers.
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
Blog Stop Gap: 10 June ‘13 The great thing about tending to ones blog is that weeds don’t  grow, there’s no dead heads to cut and generally time stands still. But sorry. There has been much to write and it hasn’t been written yet, The cross-Europe sunflower planting with Lyla from Cologne  to the Amalfi coast, joining Italian guerrilla gardeners in Bologna for a mass planting weekend and the tour with Fante di Fiori around Tending
tour with Fante di Fiori around
his village of Quarto Inferiore and his ingenious series of illustrated warning signs. Not forgetting a trip to Lublin in Poland where I met Warsaw guerrilla gardening bloggerThe guerrilla gardens of Westminster Bridge Road June 2013
Iga, who the following week came
for dinner in London to meet Munster guerrilla gardener Wilm who came bearing gifts of red cabbage, which we planted out.
These adventures will be blogged here in due course, but were you to visit the Elephant and Castle you would see what has been keeping me busy. The pimped pavements, guerrilla traffic islands and roadside verges are  without any doubt looking their  best ever, and with the pride and confidence that they indue I’ve  been on the offensive against the frustrations of Southwark Council, as you will learn from this video.
Daddy, what did you do on International Sunflower Guerilla Gardening Day?  1 May 2013 International  Sunflower  Guerrilla  Gardening  Day Nearly 2,000 people committed to plant sunflowers beyond their boundaries on 1 May 2013 and some got going even before the day. Please share photos and tales of what you did on the Facebook event  page for this occasion and we’ll compile them into a record of the day as the battle for their survival to full maturity this summer begins. And if you  didn’t get round to doing it, well try something else now and join in anyway. We’re guerrillas, there are  no rules. One renegade at the Elephant and Castle went out sowing pumpkins on May 1 instead (yes  Andrew I’ve heard). And as for the southern half of  the world, well sunflowers never made sense anyway!
News: Elephant & Castle, May ‘13 It’s the second year of the Chelsea
ringe festival across London and beyond. Once again I’ll be leading a guided walk around a network of guerrilla gardens that I tend in my local area. Also during the Mobile GardenersRiver of FlowersChelseaFringe
fringe I’ll be launching the River  of Flowers at Elephant and Castle, part of a wider project that seeks to create and strengthen nature friendly corridors through cities and beyond. I’ve mapped a route from Lambeth North to Burgess Park. In the emerging funky space of the Mobile Gardeners’ Park we’ll be celebrating this river with music, food and talks on SundayElephaht and Castle's River of Flowers River Launch Party with Music Food Talks 19 May 2013 Mobile Gardeners Park
19 May. Come along and join in.
Location: Auckland, New Zealand Guerrilla Gardening: 4 April ‘13 Auckland is growing. It’s already a huge sprawl, now it’s growing up in high-rise, and the population is forecast to rise by 25% in 25 years. That’s a ripe mix of factors for the rise of guerrilla gardening, and soGG NZ
it was that the British Council
dispatched me on a long haul mission to set kiwis on a course of constructive disobedience, (well  sort of, I think it was disguised as an art project). The Biz Dojo  hosted a talk but the main action was a guerrilla gardening dig on  a very nasty scrappy bit of land in Liverpool Street that seemed to be left over from one of the new high-rise developments. It was a  lot bleaker than I’d usually dare trying to resuscitate, but the keen local troops relished the chance toOur little guerrilla garden on a scrap of private waste ground in Auckland. The morning after planing
bring some striking contrast. So after the wonder of a visiting  my first southern hemisphere garden centre we set about digging in perennial sunflowers, hibiscus, lettuces, cabbages and lots of snap dragon, all with the helpful illumination of a TV crew from New Zealand’s version of  the BBC One Show (which is one bit of UK culture NZ misses out on unlike most of their  imported media). National radio,
tick, national press tick, I made the most of being there and getting the message out there, but travel is a chance to make face to face connections and take back inspiration too. I visited two  primary schools to see how gardening has become a pervasive influence throughout their campus, not just a dirty corner of the playground as it was in my day (though that was much
better than nothing. Garden To Table's focus is on ediblesbut it was much more than this, as
beds at Owairaka. And finally,travel is a chance to find established guerrilla gardens and their
gardeners. Woody’s patch is at the base of a multi-storey carpark next to Victoria Park running  for about thirty metres along the edge of the pavement as well as raised beds around the street  trees. Amongst the riot of colour were green tomatoes and a donations box, into which I stuffed some dollars and a note inviting Woody to get in touch, which he did, though time didn’t  unfortunately enable us to meet. Thanks to Gareth, Laila, Jacob and Isobel all made me so welcome.
Woody's guerrilla garden on Auckland
Location: St George’s Rd SE1 Guerrilla Gardening: 2 March A frenzy of bulb planting last autumn in tree pits around  Elephant & Castle is at last heralding spring, with yellow crocus there first. Proud of the pretty display I was boldly out in sunshine titivating tree pits with a little top dressing and a hair cut for the festuca and met fellow local guerrilla Beverly out doing exactly the same to her tree pit. Here’s the one  outside a local school, next to a new crash barrier - a very welcome pavement sprouting at a time when TfL have been recklessly removing too  many for urban beautification.Beacons of Spring. Guerrilla gardening opposite the Imperial War Museum
Guerrilla Grime Busting
Krista and her daughter Martha sponging down the colourful tiles  in the Elephant and Castle pedestrian subways, campaigning to save this exclusive pedestrian space from demolition. Photography by Mike Kear (www.mikekear.com)
Location: Subway 8 under the Elephant and Castle Roundabout, London SE1 Guerrilla Grime Busting: 2 and 3 February 2013 Regular guerrilla gardening opens your eyes to the potential in neglected public space beyond what can even be cultivated. You see beyond the grime, the potential feeling of anxiety and the stigma that these places can develop. Pretty much on my doorstep is a space designed in 1958 exclusively for pedestrians to cross the busy intersection of five major roads without disruption or risk of collision. But the seven subways have become dilapidated, unloved by both Transport  for London and Southwark Council with signage that is woefully inaccurate and disorientating.
Ten years ago there were plansto replace the roundabout with a small road network for 30%
less traffic and a far larger  pedestrian realm. But these plans have been scrapped and all that  remains of them is the intention to destroy the subways. Why?  Well it’s image. A FOI request revealed Southwark Council’s main reason is to change the  image of the area not the way it works. There is a fashionable  assumption that surface level crossings are the only civilised
option in the 21st century,  even if that means waiting by the side of busy roads for a few  seconds to cross, or chancing  your luck and ignoring the little red man warning you to stay  put. So I’ve gone into battle  to improve not destroy this  precious space. Late last year my wife and I created a campaign to Save Our Subways. We have distributed our new accurateCleaning the Elephant and Castle Subways
campaign videos, organised tours of the murals and with the ingenious #wewillgather gotRebecca Davies sponging
local people together to help  clean one of the subways. A  local mum who fears another death from a runaway child at the busy roadside brought her  four year old to help. Martha enthusiastically pointed out how grotty one of the metal cupboard doors was. It needed a good coat of paint. “Green,” she requested (a gardener at heart I think or a Shakin’ Stevens fan), so the next day I returned  the next evening to give it its  first new coat in a long time.Me and David mopping the toles. They date from an early 1990s renovation and were designed by students of the London College of Communication
Before, During and After painting the grotty metal door (Arsenic Green by Farrow and Ball)
News: Liberty of London launch guerrilla gardening inspired fabrics. Date: January 2013 This lawn isn’t grass. Tana Lawn is the name of a very fine cotton fabric made by Liberty. For  over a hundred years they have designed printed fabrics, most famously florals. In summer 2011 they made an enquiry, keen to visit me on their tour of the UK from which they were seeking
inspiration for their Spring Summer 2013 fabrics collected under the title of ‘Flower Show’. Lyla
and I took four designers on a walking tour of the Elephant and Castle guerrilla gardens, told them tales of our lavender harvest, sunflower planting and the Elephant and Castle Urban Forest.  Many months later four designs were unveiled, each in four different colourways, inspired by their visit. We were given several metres last spring which we used our wedding dressing the
bridesmaids, flower girls and the lining of my suit by local tailorGeorge Dyer. We have also
bought fabric to make into our current crop of lavender pillowshttp://www.guerrillagardening.org/gglavender.html
Castille, Elephant and Castle Urban Forest, Joan Larke Guerrilla Lavender and May Rose
Castille Joan Larke May Rose. Three more fabrics inspired by guerrilla gardening and designed by Liberty of London
Location: London Road SE1 Guerrilla Gardening: 21 Dec With the end of the world due we’d hedged our bets and made edible Christmas decorations.  But with no need to eat our precious rations Lyla and I set out to decorate the trees along London Road and our four year old guerrilla Christmas that’s been doing very well at St George’s  Circus. (The glazed centre is  made by putting crushed boiled sweets into a hole at the centre before it’s baked).Will they shine there until Christmas or get eaten?Christmas biscuits
Guerrilla Christmas Tree St George's Circus 2012Biscuits hanging from trees in London Road Elephant and Castle SE1
Raising The Game. Guerrilla Gardening in Elephant and Castle
Location: London Road and St George’s Road, Elephant & Castle, London SE1 Guerrilla Gardening: Late October to late November 2012 It’s been an industrious autumn, gardening has become engineering, as three of us have upgraded 11 guerrilla gardens in the local area. The upgrade is all part of the game one plays when planting in the pavement, the battle with pedestrians and their four legged friends. How do you deter them  from trampling your vulnerable little gardens without undermining one of the big reasons for pimping pavements in the first place: to enhance the environment? Barbed wire, warning signs, big barriers.
These don’t appeal. My aim in  this game is to deter the damage  from being done instinctively. Last  year I blogged about the use of  fedges - willow fences that grow  into hedges. They were easy to  install and created a lively green  barrier. But nature tries hard to  make the willow grow upwards,  so we were forever having to poke in willow that had pinged out  back into the ground. Despite this in 2012 we grew a fantastic  display of daffodils and tulips followed by sweet peas from  seed which clambered up the Sweet peas and mint thrive in guerrilla gardens 3 July 2012
wire tree cages and had a good bed of mint at their feet. I met some people who harvested the mint (despite the grotty location). But even without the picking this glorious display is shortlived. With  autumn the fedge becomes less hedge and more fence in a slow, shabby way. The mint also sheds its leaves. The tree pits became a mess magnet. So the answer we’ve tried is significant re-engineering. We have raised the beds with scaffold plank edging to present a perennially more purposeful garden.  And in doing so provided the plants with a foot more soil in which to grow. It just requires a  significant slog to start with, particularly adding the extra soil, even more so if you’re taking on eleven! The nine beds along London Road are now planted with Sweet William, Shasta Daisy “Real Galaxy”, Lavender, Daffodils “Barrat Browning”, Tulips “Queen of Night” Geranium and Salvia “Sensation Rose.” This just looks like unremarkable low green foliage in December, but it’s sufficient to signal “this is a garden, keep off” without saying so explicitly. Only a few foot prints have appeared in them in the month since they were built, so all bodes well for a pretty flamboyant spring and summer 2013 if you’re walking around the Elephant & Castle.
Guerilla gardening in raised beds along London Road recycling soil salvaged from the soon to be demolished Heygate Estate
15 October 2012 We raise Beverley’s bed around the sunflowers and add winter pansies, daffodils, crocus and heuchera on St George’s Road
Sweet Williams and more. November 2012
Location: Venice, Italy Guerrilla Gardening: 21 October This time my trowel the security people conviscated my trowel at Gatwick Airport. But thankfully the purpose of this flight was to give a lecture, short haul tulip planting would be a bonus. The  invite was from Maurizio CorradoGuerrilla Biennale
at Nemeton Magazine to speak at
Milan Made Expo. Terra di Nettuno
were there in the crowd, guerrilla gardeners from Bologna, so I spontaneously handed Andrea the stage the  mic to talk about their projects. Onto Venice where I came to  see the showcase of guerrilla
Gatwick Airport staff conviscate my trowel.The 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale was curated by David Chipperfield with the theme of Common Ground
Richard Reynolds and guerrilla gardeners of Bologna
gardening and many other grass roots initiative’s at the 13th Architecture Biennale. They were mostly concentrated within the USA’s pavillion where Spontaneous Interventions  were presented in a context of historical urban and political developments. Despite the  largely American content they used an image of ours guerrilla gardening in London to illustrate the movement. As darkness fell, Lyla and I overcame our lack of a trowel and Venice’s lack of much open ground, and found a tree pit in which to plant a handful of Queen of Night tulips. Spontaneous Interventions
Guerilla gardening in the USA pavillion, Venice.Lyla planting tulips in a large Venetian tree pit. Guerilla Gardening Italy
News: 5 October 2012 In my 2008 book I wrote about the inspirational Highline in NewA Highline For
York, a wild place within a dense urban environment which shows the power of nature to transform and inspire the creation of great public spaces. Since then it has  become a celebrated linear parkLondon: The Fleet River Channel A Shortlisted Proposal
and inspired a competition in my
home city for a radical piece of new green infrastructure. Anyone was invited to submit a 250 word proposal and A1 vision. So I had  a go with a proposal to unearth the lost River Fleet in low-line linear park inspired by seeing the Cheonggyecheon River in Seoul, but with a planting aesthetic and execution taken from guerrilla  gardeners. Of 170 entries it was one of 20 shortlisted, the only by an unqualified architectural professional, which just goes to  remind all of us enthusiastic amateurs how our good ideas can hold their own amongst those seeped in convention. The winner, Fletcher Priest, proposed filling  disused postage tunnels with a
walkway and mushrooms - but  then again, the brief didn’t requireDownload the Fleet River Channel proposal
The shortlisted designs are on show at The Garden Museum and all entries will soon be visible online. Read Stephen Bayley's article in The Telegraph
Location: Around Graz, Austria Guerrilla Gardening: 23 Sept ‘12 Guerrilla gardening missions have taken me to Vienna and Linz but until now never to Austria’s second city. The invite came from the  Truth Is Concrete, a marathon Concrete In Austria
24/7 ‘camp’ on artistic strategies in politics and political strategies in art. Artists from around the  world gathered to share tactics, inspire and perhaps even make some work in a city that recently introduced regulations limiting music in the streets and banned having a telephone conversation on a tram! The visit was also a  reunion for me with guerrilla gardener Paul Harfleet, who readers of this blog will recall I last met when helping plant
his award winning garden at Hampton Court. Paul has beenPansies palnted around Graz to mark acts of homophobic abuse by Paul Harfleet of The Pansy Project
guerrilla gardening with pansies for seven years, planting them in public places to mark acts of homophobic abuse and  discrimination. It’s called The Pansy Project and Paul travels the world planting the message. So I packed my trowel and  joined him to document an afternoon mission around  Graz joined by other artists and guests of the festival one of whom also planted a pansy.
The tray of pansies in front of the Blog HousePaul documents each pansy after planting

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