Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In Search of D.C. Green Roofs

"Roofs" is one of those words that just doesn't seem right to me. Is it "roofs?" "Rooves?" Well, regardless of how you spell it (or say it), I'm looking for it. Green ones, in particular.

D.C. Greenworks, D.C.'s preeminent green roof advocate and educator, is compiling a list of D.C. green roofs for a governmental report on the adoption of urban gardening and success in sustainability in the District. This statistics gained via the report will eventually be used to identify D.C. as one of the nation's greener cities.

D.C. Greenworks has been able to locate commercial projects, as they tend to be high profile and are more likely to be reported to the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), and While this is helpful, it overlooks the many private residences whose green roof achievements go unknown.

And this is where you come in, lovely guerillas. You guys are out and about, you know people and those people know people. Please work your networks and see if you can rummage up news of residential green roof projects in D.C. If you find some, let me know!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Our Third Event, aka: HOTTER'N HADES

Well, we did it. We weeded Champorama and it looks tons better than it did. But people? PEOPLE. It was so hot that I swear to you, I almost keeled over and died. D-I-E-D, died. And though I am a bit of an embellisher, in this particular instance I AM NOT EMBELLISHING. Death was upon me.

Three intrepid guerillas showed up to the Sunday event, sunglasses on, sunscreen on, gardening gloves on, game faces on. These three intrepid guerillas began attacking the bindweed with enthusiasm. These three intrepid guerillas began turning the overgrown, forgotten Champorama garden into something of order and beauty.

And then one of the guerillas got sort of woozy and lost her intrepidness.

And then had to lay down in the shade.

And shortly thereafter announced that the "job was done!" and stumbled for the shelter of her air conditioned car.

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit, dear friends, that that guerilla was me, your fearless/ful leader.

I was less embarrassed by my near-brush-with-death/intense-need-to-get-into-some-air-conditioning-OMG, when I learned that we had been slaving away in the blistering heat for an hour and half. I had this nagging fear that we had been pulling weeds for a measly ten minutes before I called it quits, but an hour and a half? That's impressive, especially considering it was 4 billion degrees out.

So Champorama was a success! I don't have before and after pictures for you because the Sun ate our camera (and also we forgot to take pictures), so instead I present you with this fab-u-lous drawing I made all by myself with my beyond amazing Photoshop skills:

I want to extend a SUPER-DEE-DUPER thumbs up to the guerilla who championed the Champorama event, a girl whose name I will not give in case she fears John Q. Lawman, a girl who looks darn cute in a cowboy hat and can prune a rose bush like it's nobody's business, and the girl who gave me lemonade when I thought I was going toward the light. To you, girl-who-loves-cactus-and-cowboy-boots: YOU ARE AWESOME.

I also want to thank my Coppertone SPF 50 spray-on sunscreen, which somehow managed to keep my pale-pale-paleness from igniting.

Second-To-Lastly, I am sad to report that my urn at Meridian Hill has died a hideous death, due to heat and lack of water. I drove past the urn twice this weekend and both drive-bys showed me that only DEATH grew in that pot. Alas, we mourn your loss, sweet urn. May you find happiness in the Great Big Garden In The Sky.

And now For-Real-Lastly, what's up with the lack of interest in the Cultivate Your Cut-Out Contest? Is it because's name, Pimp Your Pavement, is cooler? I'll admit that they have the cooler name, but my gardening friends, do you not see the amazingness that is our contest? I mean, a $50 prize AND a ribbon?! And the ribbon says, "You kicked that cut-out's ass?" C'mon! The ribbon says "ass!" How can you not be enticed by such wonderful prizes as these? In all of DCGG contest history (of which there is none), this is our bestest contest ever. There should be scores of entrants, scores of cut-outs, scores of people declaring, "I WILL take back this wee piece of green space and I WILL turn it into something of beauty!" So get your butts in gear, folks, and take over a tree pit. Mama Earth will thank you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The D.C. Guerilla Gardeners THIRD-EVER Event!

Hear ye! Hear ye! The DCGG is mixing it up this month to deliver a TKO (or Technical Knock-Out to you non-boxing types) to the Champorama Garden in Adams Morgan.

One of our "contenders" (guerillas) is taking over the care of Champorama since its "fall through the ropes" and needs our assistance to get it in back in fighting shape. We'll go "ten rounds" with the "glass jawed" lot, but in the end it will be the "heavyweight" DCGG that takes home the "belt."

C'mon. Admit you're impressed by my boxing lingo. I'm no "Marquess of Queensbury" but my Google-fu (from which I found all of these terms) is a real "barnburner."

-What: The THIRD-EVER D.C. Guerilla Gardeners Event! Woo Woo Woo!

-When: Sunday, June 27, 2010

-Time: 11am - Noon-ish

-Where: Champorama Garden at Champlain Street NW and Kalorama Road NW in Adams Morgan

-Bring: Boxing Gardening gloves, garden tools (spade, trowel, shovel, etc.), and one plant to add to the existing garden (drought-resistant natives are recommended)

For more information, check out the flyer. (How cute is our "champ" gorilla?! I'd squeeze his cheeks if he wasn't so ferocious. Or illustrated.)

Tweet, Tweeter, Tweetest

Yo! People! The DCGG is TWEETING! Follow the Twits (Tweets?) here:

P.S. We're getting a new website soon! It's going to be SWEEEEEEEEEET!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

un(UN)Doing It - T and Vermont Lives!

Yesterday I posted that THE MAN killed our handiwork at Vermont and T, but lo! It lives! At least in part. Some plants are gone, this is true, but others live on. Looks like the Parks Service did some housekeeping by turning the mulch over the plants that were struggling. So I take back my imaginary kicking of THE MAN.

Friday, June 18, 2010

(UN)Doing It - In Memory of T and Vermont

Guerillas. GUERILLAS! Today is a sad, sad day, for THE MAN has torn up our site at T Street and Vermont NW.
This morning I drove by the location of our first-ever event - the event in which we came together as a group for the first time - to check on the progress of our plants and you know what I saw? I saw HORROR. Men in uniform were digging up the beds.

In dismay, I looked around and saw that our leafy friends were gone. The evening primrose, the coreopsis, the black-eyed susans... all gone. All that was left was bare mulch. The same bare mulch, I must point out, that had been there, empty, for two solid years before we took it over. The only redeeming quality of that bare mulch was that the house sparrows were frolicking in it, and that was sort of cute.

I took a hard gander at the truck that had brought the gardeners (Can you call them gardeners?) to our spot and was surprised to see the words "U.S. Government - Department of the Interior - Parks Service" printed on the side. Department of the Interior? Really?
A little later I did some calling and found out that most of the open land in the District is overseen by the National Parks Service, which makes sense because it's the District. When dealing with Rock Creek Park or the National Mall, the National Parks Service's involvement is obvious, but for a small patch of forgotten property in a residential area? Apparently so.

My call ended at the Park Service --> Capital Area Region --> National Mall and Memorial Parks. Once there, I wasn't sure who to talk to to find out their plans for the spot. (And also, WHERE IS MY COREOPSIS, YO?!) Not wanting to leave a incoherent message in the general mailbox, I hung up. 'Cause really, what could I say? "Hello, my group illegally gardened and now we're upset because you came and took our plants away. GIVE ME BACK MY COREOPSIS!"

Not long ago I blogged about the nature of guerilla gardening. I said that we have to accept that our plants are never safe and that they're subject to the whims of nature and people. I was all perspective-y and maybe even a little poetic. But you know what? THAT'S CRAP. It's MADDENING when people undo your work. Dog poop be damned. I'd take that over out-and-out destruction.

So I'm putting aside what I know about the nature of guerilla gardening. I am putting aside my acceptance of its sometimes transitory nature. I'm taking off my mantle of "do and let be" and I'm choosing NOT to look at the Big Picture...

...because I'm mad and I don't want to have perspective. Instead I want to kick someone.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Doing It (Competitively) - Cultivate Your Cut-Out!

Hidey-ho there, guerillas! So I thought I'd shake things up a bit by enticing you subversive gardeners with a contest. With a make-believe drumroll and much fanfare (at least from this side of my monitor), I present to you the first-ever D.C. Guerilla Gardeners CONTEST! Wooo! Fanfare!
Here's how the Cultivate Your Cut-Out contest goes: Choose a tree pit (aka: sidewalk cut-out) and go rip-roarin' crazy with the planting, yo. Once you're done, either send me some pictures or tell me to get my butt over to the spot and check it out in person. The gardener with the most impressive cut-out WINS! (Before and After pics work GREAT for this. Hint hint.)

"And what does that gardener win?" you ask. The answer? I have no stinkin' idea! I'm thinking $50 and a fancy ribbon that says, "You kicked that cut-out's ass." For those of you who don't use such foul language, I can make the ribbon say "heinie." (Or "gluteus maximus" if you want to get technical. And anatomical.)

That's really all there is to it, but in the spirit of being a responsible person, I'll offer some suggestions.
  1. Choose a spot convenient to your home or work, or some place you pass frequently so that you can keep an eye on your handywork.
  2. Choose plants that require little to no maintenance (ie: drought resistant), unless you're prepared to lovingly tend that little bit of Earth.
  3. If there is an established tree in the cut-out, remember ROOTS! Plants with extensive root systems likely won't make it if you plant them there.
  4. AZALEAS ARE THE DEVIL. I know that you'll want to plant them because they're oh-so-pretty and super cheap, but take it from someone that has experienced the horror that is the INSTANTANEOUS BRITTLE YELLOW DEATH of an azalea... Just don't do it. Refrain, y'all. Refrain.
  5. People will get out of their cars and walk in your cut-out, and others will let their doggies make on your plants. Remember this so that you don't cry, and also so that you'll plant accordingly (ie: put shorter, hardier plants closest to the curb).
  6. If you desire those pretty iron fences that the District puts around some of the cut-outs, DON'T GET YOUR HOPES UP. For reals. I solicited the city for some of those and it was a fruitless endeavor. FRUITLESS! So if you need a fence around your cut-out, get creative and make one yourself. I suggest bricks, as these seem to be everywhere. You'll probably find a bunch IN the cut-out if you start digging around. (NOTE: Fences are not required for the contest.)
  7. Pay attention to how much sunlight the spot gets. If you put shady plants in a sunny spot, you get some wicked dead plants. (Believe me, I know.)
  8. I don't recommend planting fruits or vegetables in your cut-out, unless you test the soil first. There can be some super nasty things lurking in our city's dirt and you don't want to ingest that crap. If you don't plan on eating those edibles (instead letting the butterflies and bees and, uh... rats do it), then plant on. But if you do plan on eating the stuff in your cut-out, test the soil and for the love of God, PLEASE wash your fruits and veggies before you eat them. Dogs have likely peed on your squash. I kid you not.

Deadline for planting and photo submission is July 4th. Independence Day! Judging will occur that week, with a winner announced on Monday, July 12th.

Go at it, my friends! You know you're itching for that ribbon. YOU KNOW YOU ARE! Best of luck to you all, my beloved subversives. Best of luck.

P.S. If you plan on participating, drop me a note to let me know, por favor. It would be a cryin' shame if I continue to blog about this contest and there's no one out there participating. I'd be all embarrassed and my fragile fragile ego would go up in BRITTLE YELLOW DEATH... like my azaleas.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Doing It - Meridian Hill Park, 05/30/2010

Hello there, guerillas! Lots has been happenin' in Guerilla Central, thus the silence here at the ol' DCGG website. But do not fear! For we are gearin' up for yet another group project and this one? This one's coming fast! Anyone up for some guerilla gardening on Sunday, June 13? That's little more than a week away! If you're in, let me know and we'll choose a location.

In other news, I got my gardening butt to Meridian Hill Park last weekend and took over one of the many empty urns scattered around the grounds. The particular urn I set my eyes on wasn't so much on the GROUND as it was UP ON A WALL AND REALLY HIGH, OMG. But don't you worry your pretty little heads, my guerillas. My balance is awful but I managed to stay on that wall for the entire 10 minutes it took to transform the urn.

Supplies - Licorice Vine (Helichrysum petiolatum), African Marigold "Sweet Cream" (Tagetes erecta), and some grassy thing that didn't have a name on it and looks like every picture of grass I can find on the Internet.



Gandolf the Parrot

She's neither gorilla nor guerilla, but a great help if you need the wrapper taken off of your straw.I am not normally a fan of marigolds, but I have to admit that the ones used in the urn make me happy. And as an added bonus, those guys will self-seed so there should be marigolds in Meridian Hill for perpetuity!

Oh and P.S. Don't be fooled by the grass growing in the urn behind the one I planted. It looks semi-decent but that grass wasn't put there by anyone but Mother Nature. Oh, Mother Nature, the original guerilla gardener.