1 March 2009
The premise is simple – six young warriors armed with enthusiasm, attitude and gardening tools, working together to makeover the most barren and concrete-filled spaces in our cities. The catch? What they’re doing is illegal and if caught, could get shut down and arrested.
Welcome to Channel Ten’s new series, Guerrilla Gardeners. It’s high-risk television where breaking the law is for the greater good.
When the sun goes down, the guerrilla gardeners undertake covert operations to turn the city’s biggest eyesores into an oasis of greenery.
Targeting bleak public spaces, concrete jungles, disused land and roadside wastelands left by councils and developers, the challenge is to turn these eyesores into beautiful spaces for people to appreciate and enjoy.
With only 12 hours to turn ugly into beautiful, the six Guerrilla Gardeners will stop at nothing to reach a potential site – routinely defying trespass laws and development consent in their quest to beautify our cities.
The program follows the guerrilla gardeners as they plan and execute the ‘hit’, which involves inventing a cover story to throw authorities off track.
The Guerrilla Gardeners
Ally – ‘gardening guru’
Lilly – ‘Jill of all trades’ with a penchant for power tools
Scott – construction expert
Pete – construction expert
Dave – keeping the public and the law on side
Mickie – the mastermind behind the disguises
Each week, the six guerrilla gardeners risk fines and imprisonment by installing illegal gardens in ugly public spaces that have been neglected by authorities.
Guerrilla gardening is taking off around the world as people reclaim their cities but this is the first time it’s been made into a TV series.
Profile of Guerrilla Gardener Ally – ‘Gardening Guru’
What do you enjoy most about guerrilla gardening?
The lawlessness and ultimately the result. We're creating beautiful landscapes and having a ball doing it.
What ‘eyesores’ have you and the team transformed that you are most proud of?
Bankstown roundabout and Manly Vale veggie patch.
What has been the public’s reaction to your work?
The majority of people love what we are doing. When they figure out who we are and what we are doing, they generally show emphatic support and congratulate us on our efforts.
How have councils’ reacted to your guerilla gardening tactics?
Some councils - Sutherland Shire - have fined us (which we are fighting) and removed the garden in the Janalli roundabout entirely - whilst being booed and hissed at by about 150 locals. Bankstown and Manly, and the QLD Fortitude Valley councils have adopted the gardens, and are maintaining them and want to enlarge them, or get us to do more work!
What has been one of the hardest transformations you and the team have undertaken – what was involved; what challenges were you faced with and how did you overcome them; and what was the end result/public’s reaction?
Brisbane - the garden we were doing most recently, we were using stone and incorporating it into the existing rock face, making a rockery, using lots of concrete and taking lots of time construction-wise.
Also plant selection - we asked a lot of questions at the local nursery and observed many plants that seemed to be doing well in the area, so hopefully our choices are good ones.
We'd also heard a rumour that Anna Bligh was going to get the police onto us and have us arrested if she found us guerrilla gardening in Brisbane - so with the cops breathing down our necks, the pressure was on.The reaction from people in and around Brisbane has been really positive in the build up to hit day - so we're hoping that we'll get the authorities on side in the long run!
When it comes to gardens, what’s your philosophy?
Garden as organically as possible, working with environmental conditions rather than forcing anything onto the environment.
Choose plants specifically for a site - encouraging beneficial insects and wildlife into the area - while also interpreting a client’s ideas and desires.
What can viewers expect from future episodes of Guerrilla Gardeners – what’s in store for the six renegade gardeners?
Whatever we do, it’s fun and funny and impacts positively on the site we work on. Expect a ride fraught with the possibility of being caught, and the smooth talking of the team and the gardens we install to hopefully get us out of any trouble!
Top image: The Guerrilla Gardeners (from left to right) - Pete, Mickie, Scott, Ally, Dave and Lilly.
Bottom image: A disused block of council land that the Guerrilla Gardeners made over in St Kilda.
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