To anyone observing, it’s just a woman and a man out for a walk with a dog.
But secretly, one of them is a terrorist and the other a reporter tagging along for a story.
The dog, a feisty black Labrador puppy, is just there for the exercise.
Obviously she doesn’t want her name used. But she does want people to understand why she willingly breaks the law.
“I walk around this neighbourhood and would much rather see pretty, green, inviting parts of my neighbourhood, as opposed to broken bottles, garbage, gravel and bark mulch,” she says.
The weapons she wields are seed bombs.
They’re crafty, insidious devices that explode on contact, if the bomb maker knows his or her craft.
But the aftermath of these bombs isn’t felt for several months—so long as there’s the right amount of rainfall and sunshine.
The truth is there’s nothing explosive about these bombs, unless you consider a colourful show of wildflowers to be destructive.
Still, what this eco-terrorist is doing is against the law.
“I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s property and I’d rather not do anything illegal, but I have to trespass and theoretically I am vandalizing,” she says.
“But there will always be that one person who disagrees with what I’m doing, that thinks it’s wrong.”
Cells of guerrilla gardeners are everywhere, from London, England, to Toronto, to Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, to Moscow, Russia. They stay loosely connected through websites like guerrillagardening.org, sharing tips and swapping stories of their latest triumphs, like beautifying a neglected street planter in Paris, enlivening a desolate boulevard with winter flowers in Gothenberg, Sweden, or sowing sunflowers in front of a barren office building in Raleigh, N.C.
Some of these seeding insurgents are so bold they post videos of their clandestine cultivations on youtube.
This night New Westminster’s guerrilla gardener is skulking around the streets of the city’s west side. She’s identified her targets during previous scouting missions.
One is a boulevard covered in gravel and littered with an empty pop can, paper and a condom wrapper. It’s not a pretty sight.
She looks around for potential witnesses and, seeing none, tosses a bomb at the space where it bursts apart.
Another is a vacant lot overgrown with dandelions, a thicket of blackberries and grass that’s gone to seed.
The guerilla gardener hurls two bombs at this urban waste land.
There are other targets this night and she lets off 15 bombs in total.
“A lot of people come down here for work and they leave at the end of the day. I live here and it looks like crap. There’s litter all over the place and scrubby grass and nobody is cleaning it up,” she says.
“If it were covered in pretty flowers, suddenly people would feel obligated to clean it up. People take ownership over places that look good. So if I’m the catalyst that starts that, cool.”
Her bombs are an ingenious design and can be found on the Internet.
You take a small amount of clay—found in kids or craft stores—and roll it out thinly. Sprinkle some compost over top of the clay, followed by a handful of wildflower seeds, available at most gardening stores. Then add some water to the seed-soil mix to get those seeds to start germinating. Finally wrap the clay around the mixture and crunch it into a ball, a little bit smaller than a tennis ball is good.
“Bombs away,” she says as she tosses a bomb overhand at a lot beside a house known for drug activity.
Her hope is that others will pick up her cause. That and she doesn’t get arrested for her acts. The law sees it as vandalism but she believes it’s beautification.
“I don’t want my name used because I don’t want to be the person leading this. It’s better if people take this on on their own. Because these are things that don’t have to be organized. It’s just an individual act to beautify the city.”