Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Charlotte's guerrilla gardeners

Charlotte has a group of guerrilla gardeners, whose goal is “fighting filth with flowers. We adopt wasted urban land and plant fabulous gardens.”

The group has a Twitter account to spread the word about their efforts and to organize meetings to plant a little beauty in ugly areas of Charlotte.

The group also has plans for making seed bombs, globs of dirt packed with seeds that can be hurled or lobbed into waste areas and empty lots. (You can learn how to make your own seed bombs with a YouTube video here. For the South and Charlotte, our ubiquitous red clay would serve as a binding agent quite well.)

Since Merry Oaks has had a number of individual guerrilla gardeners over the years, here are a few unsolicited pieces of advice for members of this great new group:

  • Seek perennials and natives for areas that are likely to remain growing for several years. Your extra money spent will pay off over years. Many gardeners also often have extras to dig up and donate to others: “ditch lilies,” (common day lilies), or ground covers like “green-and-gold.” You want hardy, spreading plants, but beware plants that are way too invasive that can threaten other plants (honeysuckle or wisteria.) My back yard has some maturing money plant seeds that will be perfect for a donation for seed bombs shortly.
  • Beware schools and parks that could get mown down by workers who do not recognize your efforts at growing beauty. Many a heart has been broken by school volunteers over the years when trying to beautify an area, only to have their work trampled, bulldozed or sprayed with weed killer. If you suspect an area could face those kinds of challenges, use annuals or something cheap or free that won’t break your heart later.
  • Check with community-conscious businesses like Park Seed out of Greenwood, South Carolina. They’ve made donations to PTAs and other groups in the past. They might be willing to help the cause.
  • Be careful in “rescuing” plants from lots where houses have been torn down or moved. Check with owners to see whether they want their plants rescued. Obey property laws. And in some cases, plants, especially perennials, might be perfect to stay on the lot and beautify an empty space. Only move things if they are truly endangered.

Other ideas? Want to help?

The guerrilla gardeners meet next on Wednesday, at Amelie’s Bakery at 2424 N. Davidson St. in NoDa, to plant that evening. Follow them on Twitter as CLT_Guerrillas for details. (You don’t have to create a Twitter account to read what they’re doing.)

Photo information: Top photo by Dave Potts, showing the Guerrilla Gardeners efforts at 2700 Commonwealth Avenue. Bottom photo of money plant seed pods maturing in my back yard.

No comments: