Garden Activism—Are You at Risk?

This tongue-in-cheek article was originally published in the April 2022 issue of Cross Pollination, the newsletter of the Halton Region Master Gardeners.

Does your love of gardening come with strong opinions, ideas that sometimes bolt from the brain and barge headlong into the world? When thoughts and convictions grow mouths and legs, do be wary—it could be a case of gardening activism! There is no cure but, with care, activism is a manageable condition. In fact, most activists lead healthy, productive, and meaningful lives.

graphic of female guerilla gardener with a potted plant

Even if you’re not showing symptoms, take this handy quiz to see where you’re at on the activist spectrum. Don’t be surprised if you need to sit down with a cup of tea or a knitting basket. Or you may need to make a call, send a few emails, rattle some chains…

  • You’ve guerrilla gardened an abandoned planter, a back alley, a boulevard, a hellstrip, a crack in the sidewalk.
  • You’ve participated in a garden rescue.
  • You get cranky when gardeners express love for their ditch lilies, vinca, goutweed, and lily of the valley. Rose of Sharon too, sometimes.
  • You grow plants because everyone needs more great plants and everyone loves to find plants on their doorstep.
  • You’ve quit a Facebook group because members keep gushing over “certain” plants.
  • You argue with city gardening staff about how they should “get out of the 1800s”.
  • You’re constantly doing imaginary makeovers on other people’s gardens, replacing all the exotics and invasives with “better” plants.
  • Your front yard is turfgrass free. Give yourself a bonus point if you have a sign explaining why it looks that way.
  • You handle a lot of seeds. You save, trade, give away, and mail them to strangers.
  • You talk a lot about why we should not be doing the things we used to do.
  • You’re always telling people where they can get native plants.
  • You can’t go for a walk with friends without providing fascinating educational commentary on wayside plants.
  • You explain Ecozones when someone asks about climate zones.
  • You tell wildly hilarious jokes about “blue dawn.”
  • You read and recommend gardening books with “revolution”, “manifesto” or “defiant” in the title.

What’s Your Score?

photo of pansies growing in a crack between wall and sidewalk

What’s your score? Are you an activist?

11 to 15: Hey Che, you’re a garden activist!
7 to 10: You’ve tried it and liked it…
6 to 9: You’re in the activist ecoregion but not the activist zone
0 to 5: You’re not an activist. But watch out—no one is fully immune!

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