Just because summer’s winding down doesn’t mean that guerilla gardening needs to slow down anytime soon! Fall is actually the ideal time to plant all kinds of flower bulbs and seed that will sleep sweetly all winter and spring up next March or April, and there are plenty of vegetables that do best after a winter slumber as well. From crocuses and daffodils to peas and asparagus, this is an ideal time to pre-sow some beauty around town, so let’s take a look at some of the best species for guerilla gardening goodness that can put to best effect this season.
Guerilla gardening is all about taking advantage of ill-used and neglected public spaces, so aim for plants that pack as much punch as possible. Determine which zone you’re in so you can choose perennial bulbs that are hardy to your area, or seeds that need to be over-wintered in order to activate once spring rolls around. As for those of you whose weather is just starting to warm now (hello Australia!) can look into hardy perennial vegetables and herbs in addition to pretty flowers and such, as they only need to be sown once, but will keep bouncing up pretty much forever.
These are bulbs and seeds that you can plant up until the first frost: they’ll lie dormant all winter, and will pop up once the earth warms again.
- Crocuses – One of the first blooms to show up in springtime, often while snow still clings to the ground.
- Coneflowers (Echinacea varieties) – They come in several different hues, thrive in poor soil, and also have medicinal properties.
- Bluebells – Bright, merry little flowers that self-propagate with glee.
- Asters – Great for muddy areas, as they like wet feet.
- Muscari – Another early bloom that’s great as a ground cover.
- Daffodils – One of the “happiest” of flowers, these also self-propagate well.
- Lilies – Day lilies, Asian lilies, calla lilies… go nuts.
- Astilbes – Feathery and light, they’re ideal for shady spots and draw all kinds of pollinators. Plant near vegetable gardens.
- Poppies – Bright splashes of orange and red that stand out in an urban setting.
- Broad Beans – Amazingly nourishing, eager growers.
- Peas – Plant your peas in autumn and you’ll have huge yields in springtime when most folks are just planting theirs. Planting climbing peas near fences will give them support, and will allow passersby to grab them for easy snacks.
- Asparagus – Takes a few years to produce (sleep, creep, leap!), but once established, it’s there forever.
- Carrots – Best to plant in the fall so they don’t bolt in warmer weather.
- Beets – These like a period of dormancy over the winter, and will produce big, healthy roots come springtime.
- Radishes – You’ll be able to nibble radish greens in March and pull up roots in June if you start these babies now.
- Purple broccoli – A few broccoli varieties need to be over-wintered, so check out what’s available in your area!
- Onions – Yes, these fare amazingly well when planted in autumn. Go nuts.
- Garlic – You’ll get a stronger, healthier yield if you plant garlic cloves now, rather than next April.
Spring Gardening for Sunny December Weather
Those of you south of the Equator can put bulbs and seeds into the ground after the last frost warning, and if you choose perennial or self-seeding varieties, one season’s worth of work will keep them blooming eternally. Once it warms up a bit more, you can plant live flowers, herbs, and vegetable seedlings as well, but early seeds (even in seed bombs!) will give you a great head start. If none of these species are permitted in your region, aim for local flora instead!
- Wildflowers – Go for species indigenous to your area so they’ll feed local pollinators, and scatter to your heart’s content.
- Morning glories – Ideal for winding up fences and trellises.
- Evening Primroses – Healing as well as beautiful!
- Begonias – Bright bursts of color perfect for grey spaces.
- Freesia – Fragrant and gorgeous.
- Delphiniums – These stand tall and attract all kinds of beneficial insects.
- Gladioli – Tall, bright spears that grow well up against buildings.
- Phlox – Creeping perennials that come in dozens of colors; ideal as ground cover for large areas.
- Purslane – A succulent perennial green that’s as delicious as it is hardy.
- Lettuces – Sow early and often for edible greens nearly year-round.
- Leafy herbs (parsley, dill, cilantro, sage)
- Strawberries – Also perennial, these can grow everywhere from abandoned lots to eaves troughs.
- Spinach – Aim for perennial varieties so you only have to sow it once!
- Amaranth – Tall, luscious red flowers that create edible seeds for people and birds alike.
- Sunflowers – Smile-worthy blooms, and nourishing seeds follow soon afterward.
- Broccoli – These spring up remarkably quickly and can flourish even in poor soil.
- Pole beans – Also great for climbing fences and poles, and create 3 types of edible beans: green, soup, and dry, once mature.
Take note of these plants so you can collect seeds and bulbs for the next growing season that rolls around. It might be autumn or spring where you are now, but in 6 months, those will be reversed, and you’ll have a bunch of new plants to pop into the ground. Remember that vacant lots, public planters, hanging pots on fences, and muddy spaces near buildings are ideal places to green up, so get out there and have fun greening up your neighborhood!