Guerrilla gardeners plant flowers overnight

June 16, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Sixty-three volunteers work at night to make the city more beautiful and green. They call themselves guerrilla gardeners and consider gardening as a type of community activism planting in vacant or neglected lots. Tuesday night the group planted begonias they bought with their own money on property at the intersection of Medill and Milwaukee.

"I heard about it online. It is a big movement in Europe," said Diana May Oppenheim, guerilla gardener. "Instead of doing it just once by my house, I wanted to continuously do it throughout the summer, but it started last year. This is the second dig of this year."

Logan Square residents are curious and pleased with the garden. They say they will help maintain it.

"It's great. They are picking it up, and making it nice for the neighborhood, you know, and you never know. We get more people together. We can all work together and do something about it," said Eva Serowski, Logan Square resident.

"To see the flowers planted here in the middle of the night is great. It is a good thing for the city and a good thing for the community," said Pete Perez, Logan Square resident.

They are gardening warriors. They attacked an unattractive lot, plant beautiful flowers and hope that residents keep it up.

However, the lot is not public property; it is owned by Liberty Bank. Bank officials visited the garden and said they approve.

Thirty-fifth Ward Alderman Ray Colon also visited the garden Wednesday.

"I think you should ask for permission first. You don't know what the intention is. In order to maintain it, the owner should be onboard. It's beautiful," said Colon.

Oppenheim explained why the word "breathe" was formed with flowers.

"I think everyone would love it if they can breathe slower, deeper and more. I wanted to give that message to people on the train," said Oppenheim.

Oppenheim says it took her two weeks to gather the gardeners. It cost them $150 to beautify the lot.

Liberty Bank officials say they have been talking about making the lot a community garden.

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