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'Guerilla Gardening' Digs L.A.

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Guerilla gardening is largely thought to have its roots in England, where folks have long planted unexpected gardens in neglected public spaces as a sort of call to action that highlights the misuse of land and repurposes it into something beautiful. They often work in crews or teams and go on carefully-planned gardening missions. Recently a local team of guerilla gardeners transformed a section of land next to an off-ramp of the 101 Hollywood Freeway.

According to, many people start the gardens in public spaces and, though they flourish, there's often a disconnect between the vision of the gardener using nature as a sort of non-violent protest and the city in which the garden is planted. Because cities aren't ready to change their ways--and here in LA, they don't seem ready to shift their focus on planting drought-tolerant and low- to no-water plants that are more compatible with our environment and our water crisis--the gardeners often wish to remain "covert and anonymous" and keep a low profile, hence their use of pseudonyms, and their wish to not take personal credit for their public work. (Scott, who maintains a median in Long Beach, was recently profiled in the LA Times.)

Gardening on public land is against the law, and "violators can be fined and go to jail," although many have never faced serious legal action. There are lots of guerilla gardens in Los Angeles, including the new Hollywood Freeway one, as well as some in Long Beach, Seal Beach, and Santa Monica. So the next time you see a vacant, misused public space that prompts you to complain about its ugliness, you can always put your shovel where your mouth is and do the dirty work yourself.

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AP Photo/Chris Carlson