28 June 2005

Urban Wilderness mentioned in Globe & Mail

Posted in Media, xdx archive at 1:34 pm by urbanwild

And in Vancouver, a gardener called “Urban Wild” has been quietly adding greenery where there was once only cement and dirt and chronicling his adventures on his blog”

A link to my blog is included in the “Resources” sidebar as well as:

Primal Seeds

Toronto Public Space Committee, Guerilla Gardening

Globe & Mail
(Toronto, Canada)
June 25, 2005

Resistance is fertile: Guerrilla gardeners bring flower power to neglected urban spaces. It’s a dirty job, KAREN LaROCCA writes, but someone has to do it

Byline: KAREN LaROCCA; Special to The Globe and Mail

Ten of us take to the streets armed with tools for digging, seed packets, water and a bag of decent dirt. Not to mention the still-warm coffee grounds we’ll use for compost that we wrangled from a java joint.

We also carry a vision.

Part of a campaign of secret, simultaneous plantings planned by the Toronto Public Space Committee, our group is committed to the mission: vandalizing neglected urban spaces with nature. Call it organic culture-jamming, sneak
attacks against encroaching concrete.

Technically, we’re criminals.

Of course, both the Toronto Police and City of Toronto officials I spoke to admitted they were unlikely to expend resources on chasing gardeners unless it posed a safety hazard. (Constable Isabelle Cotton even went so far as
to say, “I would certainly hate to charge someone with mischief or anything for doing a good thing like this.”) Guerrilla gardening is quick and dirty: In larger spaces, we plant camomile, which will spread and act as groundcover. Sweet William and cosmos are bold colour statements for open, sunny spots. We stick to hardy perennials for shady areas.

When we come across a used condom at one planting site, our co-ordinator notes, “This is really not a glamorous job.” At the edge of the lot of an abandoned home, another member says, “We’re gonna increase the property value here tenfold.” On one major street, we decide against planting sunflowers in tiny patches of dirt we find, because, as one GGer puts it, “people will probably just lock their bikes to them anyway.”

While gardening is often solitary, such actions foster community, not only among the participants — who are from all walks of life, though they are mostly young people, activist types — but also for the folks who live in the bleaker areas of the downtown core.

Locals ask questions; some volunteer to pitch in. At our second planting this spring, for example, a woman who lives nearby volunteers some of her own seedlings and settles in to work the hard dirt with us. We also install small signs: “Please water me! This garden brought to you by the guerrilla gardeners.”

After all, this kind of garden is something we can all share, part of a growing urban beautification movement that includes green rooftops and community gardens.

In fact, guerrilla gardening’s roots go deep. In New York, the Green Guerrillas have been around since 1973, tossing seed mixes, encased in water balloons, into vacant lots. More recently, the Guerrilla Garden Posse has sprouted in London, Ont., where “Corporal Hollyhock” describes their Friday evening “random acts of gardening” as part fun, part community inspiration. And in Vancouver, a gardener called “Urban Wild” has quietly been adding greenery where there was once only cement and dirt and chronicling his adventures on his blog.

At the end of the first afternoon, the Toronto gardeners go our separate ways, pleased with the first round of vandalism. Sure, none of it is much to look at right now. But I am already grinning at our dirty work, imagining the cheerful surprises awaiting our fellow citizens.

And all it takes is bending a law or two.


Seeds of liberation

Want to prettify your own city and reclaim public space? Here’s the green revolution tip sheet:

1. Officials are unlikely to charge guerrilla gardeners unless they are causing mischief or endangering others. Cover your butt and use only sites that are unused or unwanted — never plant in public gardens or parks — and leave the land in better condition than you found it in.

2. Apply a little vision to the land around you. Back laneways, railway embankments, edges of parking lots and concrete planters left unattended by city gardeners are great spots to garden.

3. Keep a packet of seeds in your pocket or knapsack, along with a spoon, so you can “attack” with nature whenever you come across a neglected or unattractive spot.

4. Look for plant varieties that are native to the area and that like dry conditions. Perennials are good, especially “vigorous” and “self-sowing” varieties. Also try sunflowers, cosmos, purple sage, forget-me-nots, asters, morning glories (a vine suitable for growing along chain link fences), poppies and marigolds.

5. If you want to try growing edible plants in wasted spaces, avoid planting near pollution sources.

6. Consider the soil conditions of your sites, and plant only in those unloved spots around the city where they aren’t likely to be moved, driven over or weeded.

7. Don’t forget to go back and water, especially during the first week after planting. Planting right after a rain will buy you a few extra days.

8. Spread the word as you go. Let passersby know what you’re doing and encourage them to help.


Primal Seeds

Toronto Public Space Committee, Guerilla Gardening

Urban Wilderness: http://urbanwild.diary-x.com.


10 July 2004

Farmer’s Market & Figaro’s Garden – July 10, 2004

Posted in Gardening, shopping, Vancouver, xdx archive at 8:30 am by urbanwild

Farmer’s Market & Figaro’s Garden – July 10, 2004

Max Temp. 20.5°C
Min Temp. 12.9°C
Precip. Total 5.2 mm

Met my friend Sharon at the East Vancouver Farmer’s Market
http://www.eatlocal.org/and bought some 4 Galic Chive plants
from Bonnie Townsend of Lowland Herb Farm

My plan is to plant them underneath the trees on Ontario St between the
sidewalk and the parking lot. I rode by there later and dug up the soil a
bit. Very sandy. Will plant with compost added to amend soil make it
stronger. The area is also walked on as people go to their cars, so I will
have to mark it off with string, sticks and flagging tape.

After Farmer’s Market went to Figaro’s Garden and after a look around went
inside. They had a West Coast Seed rack and items were on sale. Buy two get
one free!

So I built up my wildflower collection and bought two Cottage Perrenial
Mixes [FL3447A] and one Butterfly Wildflower Mix [FL3448A]

I also took a look at the vegetable section and may have found the perrenial
green vegetable I have been seeking: Corn Salad [MS478A]
http://tinyurl.com/33qla aka Corn Salad = mache = lamb’s lettuce = lamb’s
tongue = field lettuce = field salad = fetticus. West Coast’s description
says that is a self-sower, easy to grow, and winter hardy on the Coast.

In addition, I bought Swiss Chard – Bright Lights [SW753A] and a Lettuce
Blend [LT455B].

Near the trees outside of Figaro’s there was a white clover flower head, but
the leaves were brown edged in green. According to Google it is TRIFOLIUM
repens ‘Purpurascens’. http://tinyurl.com/268kr I’m trying to locate seed
for this plant. The owner of the Figaro’s is back on Thursday.

On my way home, a rain deluge started. Underneath a tree, I put on my gear
and was getting wet. It was raining harder in the open. I was dryer but
still getting wet underneath the tree. I suppose I could have waited on a
house porch, but I decided to move on. Seconds later I was soaking wet. By
the time I had travelled the six blocks from Ontario St to Cambie, the worst
of it was over.

9 July 2004

No Visit/Thundershower – Friday, July 9, 2004

Posted in xdx archive at 11:40 pm by urbanwild

No Visit/Thundershower – Friday, July 9, 2004

No climate info available from Enviroment Canada

Thundershower in downtown core around 4:30pm.

8 July 2004

Thursday, July 8, 2004 – Bald spots

Posted in science.world, xdx archive at 11:37 pm by urbanwild

Thursday, July 8, 2004 – Bald spots

Max Temp. 20.4°C
Min Temp. 13.6°C
Mainly Cloudy / Overcast

Did not water at Noon.
Only 4L at 9:30PM.

Concerned about bald spots in soil where no seed are
germinating. Since I will be adding more seeds in the fall it is
not a big deal, but I have this asthetic desire to make it look
full. The Purple Tansy by the telephone poll is doing great. May have to thin it.
Molson Indy racecourse preparations are getting in the way of my bike route past the garden site. It is not completely blocked
but access is becoming more circuitous as they install concrete
barriers that determine the track.

I’ve been exploring other possiblities for guerilla gardening
space. City of Vancouver says if it doesn’t block traffic its ok.

Working on creating a Link list for this blog.

7 July 2004


Posted in science.world, xdx archive at 11:37 pm by urbanwild

Max Temp. 21.1°C
Min Temp. 13.9°C
Mostly Clear

Light rain overnight. Ground mosit. Noticed that Purple Tansy at tip of garden is not as big as those near the telephone pole.

Ground at tip is wet, soil not as thick. Will water less in future. Need to build up soil in that area. Ground cover newspapers are becoming exposed. Weighted down with stone.

Some people stop by to chat while waiting for light to change. Often positive comments.

20040705 – Garden plot in middle of Molson Indy race course

Posted in science.world, xdx archive at 12:35 pm by urbanwild

Monday, July 5, 2004 –
Garden plot in middle of Molson Indy race course.

My garden is in the middle of the Molson Indy Race Course so I called them up and spoke to the site

Lee says that my garden is right behind the Victory stand and
that he has wondered what “that patch of dirt” is doing there.

As of July 23, 2004 9AM there will be no access to the track area
except by special pass permission. Explaining that I water it
almost everyday, he said he would arrange for a volunteer to
“throw some water on it” during the race days.

Of course, if it is raining that will not be required.

6 July 2004


Posted in science.world, xdx archive at 12:48 pm by urbanwild

Min: 14.7
Max: 21.9
Rain in early morning
Overcast most of day

Late shift – started 5pm. Came by site 4pm. No watering.

Noticing bald spots where seedling are not coming up.

Will spread seeds when cut down in fall and add more in October

4 July 2004


Posted in science.world, xdx archive at 12:35 pm by urbanwild

Min: 13.4
Max: 22.9
Cloudy followed by sun

Water 8L 12Noon
Hot & Sunny

Grass/weeds growing in middle side where I had picked before. Removed dirt from area and pick as many root as possible.

Put a small square of newspaper down and replaced dirt.

Tansy doing well at telephone pole. Seedlings frilling out.


1 July 2004

20040701 – partial shade-tolerant vegetables

Posted in Gardening, Reference, xdx archive at 12:29 pm by urbanwild

The Old House Web


The following is a list of of partial shade-tolerant vegetables.
While productions may be greater in the sun, these plants will
produce an edible crop when grown in a shady location.
However, remember that nothing will grow in complete shade.
Plants will need some morning, evening or filtered sun; a total
of two to six hours of direct sun is the minimum.

Salad Burnet
Brussels sprouts
Sorrel cabbage
Summer Squash
Leaf Lettuce
Lemon Balm

26 June 2004

Rosemary removed – Saturday, June 26, 2004

Posted in science.world, xdx archive at 12:42 pm by urbanwild

Rosemary removed – Saturday, June 26, 2004 – Pic

Weather is Hot & Sunny.

Drive by in evening for look-see.

Notice hole in ground, then realize Rosemary is missing, including label/stick

What a drag.

Not a surprise, but a disappointment nonetheless.

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