Guerilla gardening, brought to you by Adidas


Here’s one of the comments that followed this video on the YouTube site: “Go back to your mochachinos and expensive loftspaces that Daddy bought you, you trendy fakes.”

I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I do occasionally worry if all the interest in guerilla gardening and inner city farms, both of which I strongly approve of, isn’t just a fad, as this implies. I must say these kids seem to have done a good job, considering they were planting at night. If it all really was.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I think a version of this concept has been around forever. Everytime a local garden club volunteers to plant public spaces in their community, they are essentially doing the same thing without all the drama. Parks have been created in vacant lots in inner cities by volunteers for decades also.

    So I guess I don’t see it as a fad. I just see it as a new generation putting their spin on an old idea.

  2. Yes and no, Cindy. A sanctioned planting is more likely to remain. If I plant on someone else’s property without permission, it is illegal. And I know people have been arrested for it.

  3. Yes, I was looking at this morning by co-incidence and I would say that they have transformed some very public areas of London where the city authorities neglect their duty to keep the city beautiful. I love their comment on trays of plants as “mass weapons of beautification”. All strength to their green thumbs – if some landlord leaves his property in squalor then citizens should be commended for making it beautiful.

  4. Making public gardens and not asking permission? What has happened to our kids?
    I take issue only with the concept of “seed bombs”. It seems like a great way to spread invasives.

  5. The video was kinda lame, but the idea is good, if you can follow thru with it. Now here is my million dollar question: Who waters these newly planted gardens? I am an eagle scout and way back in the day, when I was trying to decide what to do my project on, I was told not to plant trees because they wouldn’t be cared for after the project for the couple of years they would need to be coddled. Some ideas are very noble, but the follow thru is where the success lies. And tossing seed balls about is a waste of time if they are being tossed onto mowed grass, dont’cha think?

    About the fad issue, the guerrilla aspect is faddy, but the Johnny Appleseed mentality is not, and while I do commend urban gardening, it should be done with permission. This is a way to get young, city dwellers into gardening, but not so likely a way to keep them into gardening. How are these “gardeners” to know whether or not the land in question is to be developed soon? I guess I just feel there are different ways to change the paradigm.

  6. Eric, good points. Young trees need a ton of water. And what’s the sense of planting something if it’s not taken care of or ripped up?

    It’s a beautiful, romantic concept, but there are issues.

  7. i would like to ask that we withhold our cynicism at times like this.

    i’m a person that sees a gore 2000 sticker on an suv and is glad the driver got any of the memos i like. i do not wonder why they’re still driving their 8 year old car. you need a car to get to work. it’s unrealistic to set some of these bars so high.

    similarly, if kids are guerrilla gardening, and adidas happens to film them, i’m still glad someone was gardening. do not let the media ruin activism for you. to me, this video implies that interest is widespread enough to be marketable. that is not a bad thing, is it?

    assuming these people are just trendy fakes is. maybe they are, but they still bought plants and put them somewhere public. even if the planning is lacking, the initiative is good. you can always hold off for perfection. if someone online finds out where this bed is and starts a watering program, can we creep closer to the best of all possible worlds? this could be an opportunity.

    for more, there’s a really interesting comment here on treehugger’s page:

  8. There are far worse ways to say “F- the establishment” on my list.

    This one puts the fun back into the gardening bug and the gardening bug back into the general populace. It is these whimsical gardeners that plant first and ask questions later who move things forward. We weren’t all born with encyclopedic plant knowledge or green thumbs- some of us need to watch an apple tree grow and respond to our care for a season before we know exactly how to cultivate the perfect apples.

    Those gardeners who are sitting comfortable in musty old gymnasiums, waiting until next year for society row to come up with a more palatable array of exotic spectacle-plants should take a moment to recall how liberating it felt to get their hands dirty for the first time.

  9. continue to take care of the gardens they have planted and they plant mainly varieties that can deal with droughty conditions. Moreover often people in the
    neighbourhood offer encouragement and take over looking after the gardens – take a look at their website. So someone plants a garden on land that is to be developed, between now and then that area is a place of beauty, calm and greenery. Plants are easy to remove, it is not as though someone has installed a permanent structure. As to seed bombs, I must say I prefer the action where people get out there clean up a site and plant on hands and knees, in other words proper gardening even if it is guerilla. Maybe they do it in the dark because they have jobs to go to during the day!

  10. Sandra, ouch. “Proper” gardening? I think seed distribution can be “proper”, too, in the sense that it can create beauty with plants. Some of the guerrilla gardeners in Madison have spread wildflower seeds along an old embankment – just broadcast the seed. If they’d sprinkled the seed out the window of a car as they passed, would that be less gardening? Granted, not everything will sprout or survive, but seeds that do may have a better chance than greenhouse plants, since they’ll be exposed to local conditions from the outset.

  11. There are some places here where grass and weeds have been allowed to grow tall for wildlife. I’ve thought of making “seed bombs” loaded with flower seeds — natives only — to brighten up the meadows and feed the butterflies. Maybe, maybe…

  12. God, I’m sorry–but I LOVE this generation of 20 year-olds. Everywhere I go, I run into another college-educated young organic farmer. If this plant-orientation is a fashion, and I’m sure it is, well, what a fine moment in the history of trendiness! I mean, they could be doing the useless shit I did at that age–worrying too much about men not worth the bother and spending way too much time pawing over vintage dresses and admiring myself in the mirror. Instead, they are beautifying their world. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them–want to adopt a couple, in fact.

  13. No need to apologize, Michele. I’m just a bit miffed that I don’t have any young, hip guerilla gardeners to help me and the other 2 geezers who have to plant all the public plantings in Allentown today. Yes, that would be three of us.

    Oh, our backs.

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