Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The secret garden

I'm considering an act of guerrilla horticulture.

This is what I see every morning as I wait for the train. It's a triangle of land wedged between the post office and the train station (which no longer sells tickets - there's just a brick shelter where you can get out of the rain if you don't mind the smell). The cement picnic table does not appear to have ever hosted any picnics, especially given the "no trespassing" sign on the wall next to it. Granted, there are also "no trespassing" signs framing the entrance to the much-used post office parking lot, so maybe what they meant was closer to "no loitering" or "no skateboarding".

This morning I looked at this patch of land with a gardener's eyes. Vegetable gardening is ill-advised, since the soil is probably contaminated with lead. And I have no idea how rich the soil is - right now it's mostly bare with a few dandelions. But with full southern exposure, it could easily support an array of hardy wildflowers. In my imagination, it's full summer and the triangle is bursting with sunflowers, butterfly bush, daylilies, black-eyed susans, and purple coneflowers.

Today after work I went into the post office and asked if I could plant some flowers. (I figured "flowers" rather than "garden" sounds smaller and more harmless.) They said it was a nice idea and to go ask the manager at the larger post office nearby. I biked over there and was directed to the manager. He seemed worried he'd be liable if I somehow injured myself in a horrific trowel accident. He wanted to to know what kinds of flowers I was thinking of and why ("they're hard to kill"). But he admitted that right now they just have a contractor who sprays down the weeds once a year. He said he'd think about it and give me a call.

So now I wait. And if he says no, I think I'm going with the plan anyway. I had never heard of it, but it turns out that guerilla gardening is a widespread movement. The downside, of course, is that I risk the weed-spraying contractor coming and killing everything. And the manager now has my name, address, and phone number, so he'd know exactly who was responsible for any midnight plantings.

I'm thinking of several songs. One is Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land":

As I was walking, I saw a sign there
And that sign said "no trespassing,"
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing
That side was made for you and me.

The other is Carrie Newcomer's:

Never doubt or question the power of love
Or one woman with a shovel.


T said...

If you're worried, try the seed bombs, they produce more "natural" seeming effects and are much less easily traceable. I successfully managed to get sunflowers into a dreary corporate "garden" using them.

Anna said...

midnight gardening is pretty awesome. but you should probably avoid broad leaf flowers: broad leaf pesticides are one of the most common for suburban lawns--keeps out clovers, plantain, etc.