Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Winnipeg gardeners sneak flowers onto public streets

from the CBC

Guerrilla gardeners are launching an attack on Winnipeg's downtown, filling empty city planters with blooms to try to cut down on urban ugliness.

Jennifer Bishop is one of a handful of women who fan out to pull weeds from the abandoned planters and replace them with bedding plants from their own gardens.

"I try to do it when there's no people around, or they're otherwise occupied," Bishop said as she let a CBC camera crew follow her around recently.

"The city deserves to be beautiful, because it's a wonderful city.

"You don't necessarily want people to know that you've done it," she added. "It's just your gift to them – and sometimes the best gifts are anonymous.

The City of Winnipeg says it uses money from the parks and open spaces budget to plant flowers in planters along major streets each year.

That budget is limited, however, so some planters remain empty when city planting crews pass by.

Municipal leaders have no intention of cracking down on the guerrilla gardeners, says public information and communications officer Bob McDonald.

"I think it's very much an enhancement of what we're able to provide within our budgets," he said. "This is a situation where the more flowers that are planted, the better it is."

Winnipeggers certainly appreciate the work of Bishop and her friends.

"I think that it's really nice to have the nice flowers," said Lorinda Vopni, who passed by just after Bishop had finished watering the new plants in one urn. "It's like a backyard feeling in the middle of the city."

"It brightens up the day, because you see something growing," agreed Roger Leclerc. "After the long, cold winter, it's good to see something growing."

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