lunedì 9 dicembre 2013

Guerrilla Gardening Techniques: deploying the troops

Kamchatka-Alaska, six tanks.

A classic attack playing the strategic board game Risk.

How to move your troops during an attack of Guerrilla Gardening?
Which firepower to deploy?

In this chapter, I'll talk about an attack launched in a flowerbed (tiny or big) by a large (and noisy) group or a small one.
As already mentioned, the first step is to consider your forces to avoid the risk that, after hours of frenzied work, you go back home leaving behind you a flowerbed that has not changed so much, despite your efforts.

The second step is to organize the assault.

Summarizing the previous episodes:
1) you've identified an area to attack
2) you've launched the call to hoes
3) you've purchased the materials
4) you've decided an hour and a meeting place and....
5 ) realize that all your programs are going down the drain.

Yeah, 'cause the first difficulty you'll encounter is to figure out how many you will be.
Facebook and the like are excellent tools to publicize green attacks and when you'll do it, you rest assured that will explode the "tic of the click".
Most of your contacts will join the initiative, clicking quite a "like" and a dynamic "Join" (perhaps simply to sympathize with your event, whilst being 300 miles away) and when you'll get in front of the chosen flowerbed, you'll be five.
Ten, in the best case.

In short, don't trust completely subscriptions via Facebook.

For the same reason, do not rely on the promises of tools and flowers.
It would be great if, after you've launched operation "International Tulip Guerrilla Gardening Day" all participants would come with - I do not say much! - a tulip bulb and a hoe apiece.
Unfortunately, it almost never happens.
Many will bring something but many others will come up empty-handed.
It doesn't matter: the important is to get fun and beautify the town.
As the wise says (who would be me):

 "Just bring with you your best smile. On the other hand, what value you can give to a smile?"

All this to say that, probably, you will have much less material than you had planned when you counted the adhesions.

But let's be optimistic.
Let's say many people have joined and that you are equipped with a large amount of plants, flowers and tools.

How to arrange the whole thing?
This is another step which, although not crucial, can be worth the time to prepare it (with all the limitations just mentioned above).

The ideal would be to have designed the flowerbed in advance: here the cyclamens, there the tulips, over there the periwinkles, the tree juniper on the right, the oleander in the background....
However, because of the uncertainty of the project, you'll have to improvise.

Equally, it would be ideally to elect a Commander-in-chief. In short, a leader who says this goes here and that goes overthere, but he would not have the sympathies of the participants. And then, you know, the arrangement of floral elements it's a matter of liking.
An Italian common saying (a Roman one, to be correct) says:

"Tastes are tastes, says the cat when it's licking its ass"
(OK, quite rude, I know).

The alternative is that, in a quasi-democratic way, everyone tells his opinion.
This phase often lasts more than the tolerable and while a few isolate themselves to come to an agreement, others go for a coffee at the bar across the street.
Probably, it's because we are Italians, inventors of the homonym "Italian garden", but be sure that in my Country will prevail the most unnatural provisions: the geometric and symmetrical ones.

Need a proof?
Scroll down through the images of the attacks accomplished in Italy: cyclamens arranged to circles or around vertical elements, bulbs planted in rows like onions (I believe they look better in groups), quasi-military formations (OK, we call ourselves guerrillas but....) like wedges in open areas, trees or shrubs alternating in regular succession....
I would not be able to do the psychoanalysis of illicit gardening, however is quite curious that, in these contexts, it prevails a symmetry that doesn't exist in nature.

Which, I admit, it doesn't mean that the results are not excellent.
Only, I would call it.... odd.
Probably, Man doesn't know how to reproduce the harmony of Mother Nature.
When inexperienced hands try to mimic the natural arrangement of flowers and trees, the result is a disturbing and tacky mess. Better, then, to simplify things relying on more easily and reproducible patterns.

Actually, designing gardens is not so easy: you must be an expert who knows the tricks of the trade and, often, among the green guerrillas, there are no professional gardeners.
It's clear that results obtained from a group which met occasionally with botched material, sometimes frankly unfitting, should move observers and passers-by at the least of compassion.

By the way: if you're one of those passers-by.... could you kindly stop criticizing and bring some water? The third tulip of the fifth row seems a bit suffering....

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