When Richard Reynolds began gardening secretly outside his council block in south London, he had no idea he was part of a global movement committed to combating the urban forces of litter, pollution, vandalism and, worst of all, apathy about public spaces. At first Reynolds was content to work alone, recording his experiences on his weblog. The council 'responsible' for the spaces took no interest, not even when Reynolds entered one of his plots for the Southwark in Bloom competition. But word of his nocturnal endeavours quickly spread, as guerrilla gardeners from all over the globe wrote to Reynolds with their tips for making seed bombs, planting grime-resistant flowers and avoiding arrest, and donating plants of their own - such as the eight-foot Christmas tree that now stands proud on a roundabout near Elephant and Castle.
Now Richard Reynolds wants you to join him. "On Guerrilla Gardening" is his manifesto, a call to arms that charts the revolutionary history of guerrilla gardening from its roots in 1970s Manhattan, and proffers advice on tactics, equipment and recruitment. It is also a manual for a very particular form of gardening, whose 'weeds' are crisp packets and whose 'wildlife' is drunks. This is a book for all would-be activists, green-fingered or otherwise, who believe we should seize control of our shared environment - and start cherishing it once and for all.
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Richard Reynolds' first illegal cultivation was at college, where he planted windowsills with boxes of Busy Lizzies. He became a guerrilla gardener in earnest in 2004 when he moved into a council block with dilapidated communal flowerbeds in London's Elephant & Castle.