Dear Troops

It has been a month involving the police, a death, new guerrilla cells, poppy planting at the Ministry of Defence, bulb planting in the hundreds and lots of very smelly envelope stuffing.

It’s been a while since the police took an interest in our gardening (usually they’re more concerned about the suspect car bomb I drive around in). Two jittery officers jumped up onto the traffic island with us in response to reports we were stealing plants. I applied the now much-tested approach of smiling, frowning and launching into a strident explanation. I recommend you do the same. In this instance we were planting a lot of daffodils (Narcissi ‘Carlton”) “We are volunteer gardeners etc” is the line to take. They asked the obvious question about permission and in the same matter of fact tone I told them “no we didn’t have permission from Southwark Council, but we saw no reason why any one would object to use turning this miserable patch into something more colourful”. It helped that our nine-foot sunflowers were still in bloom as compelling evidence that our crime was a good one. They left so swiftly after this I didn’t even have time to take their photo.

I was very sorry to hear of the death of a passionate, inspiring and victorious guerrilla gardener in New York. In the early 1970s Adam 276 was a Green Guerilla, one of the original troop who illicitly transformed big pockets of land across Manhattan. He helped create many of the established community gardens that are enjoyed today. His home turf was the Clinton Community Garden (, a thriving bit of heaven in Hell’s Kitchen. I met Adam last year and we spent most of one sunny day talking about guerrilla gardening and walking around his patch. Although the big battles at the Clinton Community Garden were over elsewhere he continued to champion green community space. Fortunately his death was not a casualty of gardening at the front line but at 53 his loss is still tragically well before the autumn of his life.

There are several enterprising new pockets of guerrilla gardening springing up around the world. Take a look at the following for ideas or to get involved:

MILAN – A small new group have transformed a few patches:
SANTA BARBARA – A solo guerrilla transforming a huge space near a railway line:
NEW YORK – A very organised network into guerrilla tree-planting and in some cases working with the authorities:

In Britain people wear paper red poppies to remember soldiers killed in war. In London four guerrillas gardeners decided to plant some instead – around the lawns of the Ministry of Defence without permission. Their short film can be viewed here:

We’ve planted hundreds of daffodils, allium and tulips over the last month in London. For those in climates like ours it is still not too late to dig some more in. Bulb planting is an immensely easy and satisfying form of guerrilla gardening, dare I say it, almost fool proof. November 1st was No More Landmines Day ( but why not make tomorrow your day for planting something explosive in a good way?

This year’s Guerrilla Gardening London Lavender Pillows are on sale. 200 were made but are selling swiftly. The lavender was grown illicitly on public land near Westminster Bridge Road and were stitched and stuffed by nibble green fingered guerrillas. Please visit the website for more details. They make great Christmas presents and I certainly don’t mind stuffing these sweet smelling pillows into lots more envelopes.