Guerilla gardeners quietly at odds with each other

ClareBroommaker's picture

This long city block has a 40 foot wide tree-lined parkway down the middle of the street. The city had years ago planted sycamores and scholar trees. A few years ago they came back through and planted oaks where scholar trees had died. All those oaks died except the one I kept watered the year it was planted and again in 2012, the year of extreme drought. Also, the scholar trees continued to die and were removed by the forestry department.

The blank spaces remained on the parkway for years, begging for trees. Summer 2018 I made plans to plant two pear trees in spaces near my own house. I was going to do it in autumn and had figured out the varieties and place to buy the trees. But, toward the end of that summer, someone planted a few willows in the parkway open spaces at the far end of the block. Then each following Monday, I noticed more willows had been planted (Sundays at night?), continuing down the parkway and across and intersecting street to the parkway in the next block.

I tried to find out who had planted the willows so I could understand why willows and so I could ask them to reserve a couple of remaining spaces for "my" pear trees. I could not find out who did it. Another neighbor told me that they themselves "may or may not have been the person who cut down" a couple of the young willows, replacing them with maples. Same person has also already trimmed back the first two planted willows for visibility. As far as auto traffic goes, the willows are a bad idea at the intersections, as they block the view.

So anyway, this reveals that there are at least three guerilla gardeners working on my block: myself, Will O'Person, and Maple Guy. Will O'Person is a mystery; maybe doesn't even live on the block. Sure wish I could connect with Will O'Person. Am wondering if they have some practical reason for the willows. A wish to collect material for basketry, for wattle, for making pain relievers? Don't know. Only thing I can think to do is hang some little signs on some of the trees, saying "I'd like to meet you and talk about the trees. Call me...."

Fascinating! Will and Maple have to be careful (as you should be) since the parkway / tree lawn belongs to the municipality.

My mother is a guerrilla gardener; she's the reason her church's parking lot and access roads are lined with maple trees and daffodils in the spring. I still don't think St Paul's knows where those trees came from.

Have you considered interplanting your pear trees among the willows, knowing the municipality may remove the 'difficult' trees and leave the 'better' trees behind?

Teresa from Hershey

Tude's picture

Clare any update on this? What a great story!

Hi Clare. I'd love an update.

Having reread the original post, I realized I don't know what a scholar tree is.

An elm?

Please clarify when you update your story.

Teresa from Hershey

ClareBroommaker's picture

Someone purposefully chopped down one little willow, but it could easily come back from the roots.

I noticed yesterday that the bark is already coloring up (red) and so I may follow the recent encouragement to harvest for pain relief. (Funny how that goes--I just bought a bottle of aspirin last week, the first in more than a decade.) If I'm not too lazy I will collect from the down the block at the intersection where the branches need to be trimmed for auto visibility and where the trees are already big.

Maple Guy has moved. I've still never seen anyone tending to the willows. At the moment I don't feel inclined to bring in the pear trees.

A scholar tree looks a lot like a locust tree. Smallish tree with small pinnate leaves, drooping clusters of cream-yellow flowers, but without the wonderful smell of locust flowers. Seed pods that look like strings of translucent yellow beads. Doesn't make heavy shade.