Gardening comrades, help us in sparking an urban gardening revolution! From streets to rooftops, GardenTags and the RHS are on a mission to Green Grey Britain.
Vanessa Harden (The Subversive Gardener) creates public interventions and art installations that explore our relationship with design, people and the world around us. Today, she discusses the importance of Guerrilla Gardening…
Guerrilla Gardening for a New Generation
You see them everyday. They are people just like you and me. But one thing is different… Hidden in her handbag or safely stored in his briefcase are secret gardening tools. If guerrilla gardening is the illicit cultivation and beautification of someone else’s land, then subversive gardening is the act of doing it secretly and stylishly.
But why the need to garden secretly? As absurd as it may sound, guerrilla gardening is still deemed vandalism and is against the law. From covert tools that act as accessories to ‘seed pills’, subversive gardening is a cleaner and more fashionable way for guerrilla gardeners to incorporate assaults into their daily routine.
The idea was born out of pure necessity. I remember going to meet Richard Reynolds, founder of guerrillagardening.org, to help with a dig in South London. I soon realised that it was demanded that you bring supplies. I left the house with a shovel and headed towards rush hour on the tube. All the while, thinking that there must be a better and less obvious way of doing this.
SEE MORE: No Fear Gardening in Urban Areas
In order for these gardeners to be successful, the tools they use need to function. Alongside merge into current fashion and cultural trends. Camouflaging tools into our every day apparel has become increasingly important in the overall concept of covert horticulture.
The first set of tools that I designed was Tools by ‘Q,’. A series of cold war era tools that appealed to city dwellers. Tools by ‘Q’ presents a handbag, briefcase, loafer and camera that double as tools to plant seeds and shrubbery. Each tool is paired with a smart jacket and a variety of seed pills. This helps to stylishly integrate gardening assaults into the gardener’s daily routine. These were tried and tested with great success by Richard Reynolds and his loyal troops in various assaults in and around London.
In 2015, I attended the London Design Festival. This is where The Subversive Gardener 2.0 collection was launched. Comprising of Tools for Him and Tools for Her. And aimed at promoting guerrilla gardening among millennials. This series presented a variety of tool-like jewellery available in brass and 24ct plated gold. From a trio of brass ‘nail-dusters’ that can be used as a spade, rake and shovel. Through to a set of ‘seed shooting grillz’ that enable seeds to be projected into hard to reach spaces. These products are both fashionable and functional. These tools and many others can be found on subversivegardener.net. A portion of all proceeds go to guerrillagardening.org to help buy supplies for urban gardening.
The Subversive Gardener collection continues to be an ongoing exploration into urban gardening and public intervention. And combines satire and fashion with environmentalism and popular culture. Perhaps with these types of tools, more people will contribute to our urban landscapes? And perhaps by tapping into popular culture, we could attract a new generation of guerrilla gardeners?
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