Guerilla gardening is the illicit cultivation of someone else's land without their permission. Termed vandalism to some but when you're painting with plants, I think most would agree it's for the better. I always enjoyed gardening and getting my hands dirty but home ownership in southern California was out of the question so I was confined to an apartment with no dirt to play in. After discovering Guerilla Gardening I knew this was a way to feed my hunger for landscaping. After careful thought and public land surveys, I found a barren parking strip in Altadena, California. I immediately fell in love and decided I would improve its beauty with drought-tolerant landscaping. It was a 600 x 10 foot strip that ran along Altadena Drive near Eaton Canyon. It was mainly used for runner, people getting out of cars and trash dumping. I knew that with a little TLC, people would eventually take notice of the area and begin to care for it. After planting my first few plants in the cover of darkness, I decided it was safe to plant during the day. I then recruited my wonderful friends for a Thanksgiving day planting event in 2010, where we planted numerous plants all along the strip. From there, the garden only grew bigger and received more attention.
Over the years, the garden grew in both the number of plants and publicity. The plants only received the winter rainfall that the Mediterranean climate provided and surprisingly, the plants seemed to thrive! With the continued assistance of my friends and the wonderful plant donations from the Huntington, the garden began to fill in and eventually began to be recognized as a garden. It eventually received a Golden Poppy Award from the Altadena Heritage Society, which only motivated me to keep on planting and filling the garden with even more specimens. On my 27th birthday in 2013 I organized a Planting Day to add larger specimens donated by the Huntington. These large specimens were exactly what the garden needed to really scream "LOOK!". In April 2014, I received news of my acceptance to the University of Florida, which meant that I would have to leave the guerilla garden behind. After one last stroll through my beautiful vandalism, I bade farewell to the garden and headed to Florida. Sadly, a few months later, I received emails and phone calls about the garden pertaining to it's removal by Los Angeles county. They were concerned about liability issues and did not like the threat to safety that the cacti possessed. The removal was to occur on my 28th birthday. Luckily, they gave the neighbors and anyone else who drove by the area the opportunity to come and dig up the plants (Removal Day). Most of the plants were removed before destruction, which means they found loving homes in new xeric landscapes. The garden lasted almost 4 years and brought attention to a neglected piece of land, even though that attention eventually led to its demise. According to the reports, there are plans to add plants back to the landscape (most likely trees) so at least it won't sit bare any longer. In the end, it was a wonderful experience and taught me a lot about landscaping. It brought many people together for a good cause and strengthened my relationships with many of my friends.
See the pictures below for a small glimpse of the evolution of the garden.