Twelve hours of hit-and-run horticulture
IT’S a typical Melbourne day when the production team from Guerrilla Gardeners descends — four seasons by lunchtime when heavy clouds start threatening.
But there’s a buzz of excitement on a tiny pocket of land in St Kilda. The team— four professional gardeners, public artist Mickey Quick and comedian Dave Lawson — has a job to do in limited time.
Yellow vests on and a documentary crew catching every move, the team labours away clearing debris then creating a garden. Picket fences are built, paths laid out, artificial flowers planted and pots set in place.
The premise of Guerrilla Gardeners is to find ugly pockets of urban land to transform— hopefully in a way that keeps viewers entertained.
In most cases the land is owned by government agencies such as Vic Roads, though executive producer Nick Murray says they don’t usually bother to find out.
‘‘We go out there and find hideous sites like this; normally they have been dobbed in by a local,’’ Murray, whose credits include Ten’s hit series Bondi Rescue, says.
Each transformation is done without permission or planning approval. ‘‘The theory is that if you are wearing a yellow vest you can do anything you want,’’ Murray says, so time is of the essence.
Passers-by may notice them working, but filming is as discreet as possible using time-lapse technology and small documentary cameras.
‘‘The whole idea is that at the end of the day there will be an element to make people smile,’’ Murray says.
‘‘Hopefully we get it done and get away before anyone notices what we are doing here, but we do have a budget for fines.’’
Guerrilla gardening has grown in popularity over the past 10 years, with a strong movement in London. Closer to home, artist Wendy Whiteley famously reclaimed derelict land near her home in Sydney’s Lavender Bay to create a ‘‘magic garden’’.
‘‘It’s not about greening, it’s not preachy, it’s not about carbon offsetting, it’s just about making the world look better so that when people go past it makes them smile, rather than looking at a horrible eyesore,’’ Murray says.
‘‘If the owners were looking after these areas or forcing the developers to clean them up, we wouldn’t have anything to do.’’
the Guerrilla Gardeners