Gardens - Specialty Gardens

Guerrilla gardeners: Waging war on ugly spaces

Signe Langford
Photography by
Signe Langford

Marauding gangs of heavily armed green thumbs may be on their way to an abandoned lot near you

guerilla-coordinatorinsert.jpgWho are these guerilla gardeners?
Just like the things that grow on these patches of inhospitable land, guerrilla gardeners have become expert at eking out an existence from very little. Completely volunteer run, each project depends on donations and involvement from the larger community. Co-ordinator Terry Aldebert explained, “We survive on donations from private citizens and businesses—no government funding.” The group receives donations of plant material, soil and seeds from garden centres and nurseries, folks with perennials in need of splitting and shops with seasonal plant material that might be a tad straggly and destined for the composter. Members keep their eyes open for opportunities to grab up greenery that’s about to go to waste. “Last year I spotted two homes with mature gardens that were slated for demo. I called the contractor and arranged to go in and dig it all up.” Aldebert and her crew have to be creative and resourceful, but it doesn’t hurt that Aldebert’s dad owns a Home Hardware in the town of Durham and is very handy.

Tonight, there are masses of donated ditch lilies, too-tall pansies, sunflower seedlings, trays of cosmos and lobelia as well as sturdy, cedar planter boxes whipped up by Aldebert’s dad. And tonight, on this, the longest day of the summer, these dedicated folks will dig, sweat, lug water and plant until there is no more daylight and one more beautiful space in this town.

Inset image: Co-ordinator, Terry Aldebert holds a tray of annuals ready for the freshly turned and fertilized ground.


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