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Guerilla Gardening Anyone?

Guerilla gardening is the act of gardening on land that the gardeners do not have the legal rights to cultivate, such as abandoned sites, areas that are not being cared for, or private property.

And it’s a trend that has been catching on more and more in Berlin in the last few years. With almost 500,000 street trees (a number which does not include the many trees in parks, private gardens and grounds) and grassy verges there is plenty of scope for plots of land to take over.

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Each street tree tends to have an open plot of soil, some 2m by 3m in size, though plots as big as 3m x 4m are not uncommon. Once trees are planted by the local municipalities, the soil plots they occur on tend to have little more done to them. An annual strimmer cut, the removal of leaves and litter in the autumn, and that’s about it. In their “natural” state the plots tend to be bare soil, devoid of much else bar a few grasses and weeds, and perhaps some dog poo (cleaning up after your pet is an issue here also).

But once an enthusiastic gardener, local shops or restaurants, office, or a “green” minded person takes over care of a plot (or two), the resulting green haven created along a street can be impressive, often reflecting a gardeners personality.

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So from as little as an apple tree planted in a grassy verge, to a more elaborate “takeover” you can find mini vegetable gardens, quirky themed gardens, lush planting, all of which add plant biodiversity and new mini habitats to the street. And of course they look so much better than a patch of bare soil, and help regulate summer heat. The selection of images shown here come from street tree plots in one district of Berlin… Schoeneberg.

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Let’s hope the trend spreads, as guerilla gardening is a local biodiversity enhancement movement that we should all support!    

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© Peter Foss 2012