What I learned about guerilla gardening at the GROW London Contemporary Garden Fair


Image credit: GROW London

GROW London – the contemporary garden and lifestyle fair – has just finished up its 2016 residency at Hampstead Heath.

As you might expect from a gardening fair in NW3, there were an abundance of stalls selling highly priced chintzy garden accessories to people with small yappy dogs, large wallets, and even larger gardens. But there were also a handful of great ideas for beginner gardeners who definitely don’t have Hampstead-sized budgets, and even something for those who want to learn more about socially conscious growing activities.

One of GROW London’s most interesting offerings was in the form of a talk by Elephant and Castle-based guerilla gardener, Richard Reynolds. Richard uses his blog to share stories, tips, and photos of the guerilla gardening he does with friends around Southwark and Lambeth. Occasionally getting into disagreements with the likes of TfL and London borough councils, Richard and co have transformed sad-looking roundabouts, dirty and unloved paths, and overgrown council land into oases of calm and beauty. This photo and tweet below shows some ‘pavement pimping’ of tree pits on pavements.

I was really inspired by Richard and co’s approach: just going out there and doing it, getting friends and neighbours involved (albeit under cover of darkness at times), and making the difference in their communities. Richard started off focusing on the patches of garden around the housing estate he lived on, and then went from there. The tweet and photos below show the original patches he started working on.

Following that, Richard and co have been out and about all over South London, installing some wonderful raised beds most recently. Richard did note that anything planted on busy roads will sadly get a bit soot-covered: another reason to push for more electric buses.

I left the talk feeling really inspired and excited about the possibilities for getting involved with a guerilla gardening gang or perhaps starting my own. If anyone’s keen to do this or knows of any groups operating in North/East London then please let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

For anyone looking to give it a go, Richard recommended tulips, lavender and mint as they offer a real treat for the senses for passers by. Check out Richard’s blog, Twitter and book. And of course, it’s not just London that has guerilla gardeners: there’s a huge global network out there. Watch this great video by South Central LA guerilla gardener Ron Finley.


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