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Flower Grafitti: Going Rogue With Seed Packets

May 10, 2011

There’s this weird and generally unclear territorial thing about the street corners in my neighborhood: who gets to handle the flower beds.  Unlike some of da ‘hoods in Chicago, our street corners are not poured concrete or cement but dirt.  The parkways and corners are city property by law, but a local neighborhood association oversees the corners within walking distance of my apartment.  They are generally gardened within varying degrees.  I had a neighborhood association membership one year and indicated an interest in participation, but no one responded to my inquiries at all; so I’ve taken up Guerilla Gardening.

In its truest form, Guerilla Gardening is the act of putting plants in cracks, crevices and corners of the urban environment without permission and often where they are not expected.  I’m trying to get thicker patches of flowers to live in some of the more sparsely planted corner flower beds.  I am going to branch out and scout areas along the train tracks and other niches that a seed may take hold.  I’m hoping to surround a few sunny stop signs with sunflowers and ferret out gaps between buildings.  Plants and being outside are a huge relief after being entombed in snow for so long last winter.  A few people cheered me on, to them more flowers are better than less flowers; but one guy worried that a certain couple will be angry that I’ve invaded “their” corner.  This is a really upscale and structured neighborhood, not like the rougher ones where the locals may simply elect to destroy the corner or parkway garden.  One time, I was looking out the window of my old neighborhood home and a car pulled up, someone got out with scissors, walked onto my private property, then cut away all of my freshly bloomed tulips and drove off with a bouquet for Mother’s Day.  That was a clear breech of my turf.  You need a certain level of detachment toward gardening in public urban spaces.

I figure if anyone is going to get really pissed off about flowers, they either need a level of stress relief beyond what gardening can provide or they need some therapy.  I don’t even know if these seeds will take and they could be weeded out at some point.  Gardening is great if you like work, dirt and plants.  (I really do!)  But gardening is less enjoyable is you are a control freak about the process and the results.  The weather report indicates Chicago is supposed to get a lot of rain over the next four days.  Good luck little zinnias, bachelor buttons and sunflowers.  I hope to see you sprout and achieve maturation without someone filing a police report.

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