And here are the faces of the Guerilla Gardeners team -TEN’s new clandestine landscapers who hit screens tonight with their ‘hit-and-run horticulture.’
The six are adamant they are spreading good, and a bit of flora, across our cities, even if the first episode brazenly boasts that it breaks “a whole bunch of Federal, State and Local Laws.” With the exception of one incomplete makeover in Jannali, the crew have managed to spruce up derilect parcels of public land. But as late as yesterday even the TEN legal department was nervous about some of the show’s activities, requiring presenter Dave Lawson (pictured in red shirt) to re-record some of his voice-over for tonight’s show.
“There’s a change to a few words we had to make,” he says. “I think they’re happy now. I don’t think we’ve broken any major laws.”
Lawson, who has previously presented for Nickelodeon and Channel [V] says the show has never set out to be lawbreakers.
“For me it was never about ‘rubbing it in anyone’s faces.’ I don’t think any of us are pretending to go out there being criminals breaking laws. People are doing it just to garden.”
As ‘the voice’ of the guerilla team, Lawson is the only one with any significant television experience. He jokes that producers Cordell Jigsaw turned to him when they couldn’t find a high profile celebrity.
“I got a call because they needed someone to spin lines to the councils when they turned up,” he said. “I was never any good at lying but it turns out I’m getting a lot better at it. I’ve been thrown in the deep end, learning how to dig and plant.
“It’s a TV gardening show we thought we’d have people dig holes for us but they don’t! Other TV shows seem to have 60 people come in and do the gardening. I thought this would be a nice, cosy job, but it’s not at all.
“And digging’s not that easy!”
Lawson says his other teammates are all experienced in landscape and horticulture.
“They’ve all been doing gardening and guerilla gardening to a degree themselves. Two of the blokes are in construction and they build all the planter boxes, the girls, Lilly and Ally have done horticulture and know their plants, and Mickey does a lot of the disguises.”
While most councils have willingly turned a blind eye to the makeovers, Sutherland Shire Council in Sydney stopped the team from finishing a roundabout, citing poor soil problems and safety issues.
“A lot of councils come and ask us what we’re doing. It’s a tricky situation for them. We’re not supposed to be there but often there’s a ranger who comes down and likes what we’re doing. In Sutherland they played along with us for a while but I think someone in the offices decided ‘we can’t let you do this anymore.’
The derailed episode will still air on TEN.
Lawson says they beautified an ugly roundabout that hadn’t been touched in seven years.
“I thought the roundabout looked really good, but I think someone was putting in a tender for it at the same time.”
Producer and creator Nick Murray also disputed the council’s line.
“Not only is what they say absolute rubbish, but they fail to admit how long they have left the site desolate,” Murray said. “As if we are going to work with any council who are prepared to leave land fallow and ugly. We have planted appropriate plants for the climate and the location. They should survive with minimal water and the new soil we put on the site.
“We also refute their allegations that we put the public at risk. We installed low height plants so as not to obscure views at the roundabout.”
For his part, Dave Lawson gives some stern advice to any viewers attempting to mimic their actions in public.
“Get yourself a good lawyer, a good disguise and plants that suit the area. Don’t go too big with it. The less holes in the ground the better. Or just take a packet of seeds.”
Guerilla Gardeners premieres at 8pm tonight on TEN.