Guerrilla “gardening”

(This post is about waging war in the garden, not planting and gardening on land without permission.)

I have watched with a mixture of sadness and incomprehension the decimation of numerous gardens lately. Gardens that were filled with mature shrubs and resilient perennials; that abounded with wildlife all year round and were filled with flowers from spring to autumn.

Then the “gardeners” arrived, and skilfully razed all the plants to the ground. Well, not quite to the ground because the gardens are left covered with the stools of shrubs bristling above the bare earth: earth that will soon becomes verdant with nettles, thistles and brambles.

From so many perspectives this is a perverse thing to do. If the garden owners realised the value of their plants would they be so willing to be (mis)guided by their “gardeners” into decimating their trees, shrubs and perennials?

From a monetary perspective alone, the value of the plants in the latest garden I have seen disappear, which was only small, but very productive, would be in the region of £600, and that is a fairly conservative estimate.

It’s true that the plants may be rather old fashioned (Lonicera, Buxus, Hydrangea, Chamaecyparis, Spirea, Myrtus, Rosa etc – traditional plants from the 1950s and 60s), but it’s equally true that they were ideally suited to their situation, as was proved by their longevity.

But it’s not just about money: the habitat value is/was immense – it will take decades (or lots of money) to recreate anything resembling that mature habitat. Also there is the genetic value of the plants – stock which have proved ideally suited to their location, in this instance a very light soil in a garden blasted by salt laden winds. 

A further irony is that the “gardeners” now only have two suggestions to “improve” the barren wasteland they have created: pave it or put it to lawn. Both of which will need considerable further expense, particularly in removing the old stumps and stools.

And, perhaps most bizarrely of all, the garden owners are surprised that they have lost the privacy and seclusion of their gardens.

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