The war on terra australis

By David Knox on February 18, 2009 / Filed Under News 33

guerilla-gardenersAnd 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.


  1. Alan Smith June 1, 2009 at 3:30 am -

    I found the programme fascinating. But it hasn’t helped me in a confrontation with the Brisbane City Council for doing the same sort of thing. They are suing me for a potential fine of up to a hundred thousand dollars!

  2. archi April 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm -

    id like to see citizens jumping in and doing the same, not having to rely on incompetent anybodies to say go. after all, it is our personal responsibilities, and who cares if you aren’t getting paid for it?

  3. Matthew R February 20, 2009 at 12:55 am -

    That sundial from the premiere is a lawsuit waiting to happen. A big, pointy lawsuit.

  4. David Knox February 19, 2009 at 10:04 pm -

    Not that high. Check ratings for Week 8.

  5. Earthquake February 19, 2009 at 9:20 pm -

    David, do you know the ratings for the programme at all? I would reckon it would get at least 1 million.

  6. Ianblair23 February 19, 2009 at 8:05 am -

    Wow, I wasn’t expecting that many. I was thinking 8 to 10. A bit of a risk by Ten, maybe but it seems to have been well received.

  7. ryan February 19, 2009 at 5:39 am -

    well said craig, you do only looks to your right!!
    great show people, go check it out, i will def be watching next week

  8. Rutzie February 18, 2009 at 11:46 pm -

    It was very good viewing. I’ll definitely be watching again.

  9. David Knox February 18, 2009 at 11:40 pm -

    There’s a stack… 19 at least….must be aiming for 22.

  10. Ianblair23 February 18, 2009 at 11:10 pm -

    I usually avoid garden shows, but I actually really enjoyed tonight’s premiere episode. They did a fantansic job and all power to them. I will be back next for sure.

    David, do you know how many episodes they have made?

  11. Get This February 18, 2009 at 11:03 pm -

    I thought the show was great tonight, I thought I sure a familar face in Dave. He played golf at my work on Friday, not to mention his AFL ads. Anyway I’ll be back next week to watch again, be nice if TEN give it a chance.

  12. Jamie February 18, 2009 at 9:50 pm -

    The shows good. The thing is will ten just axe it as soon as ratings go down they never seem to give things a go. Its good to see the enviroment getting a spruce up instead of seeing boring dirt and grass areas.Well done

  13. Earthquake February 18, 2009 at 9:49 pm -

    I watched the episode tonight and it was fantastic.

    The only issue would be wanting to know more about the plants they are planting – what the common name for the plant is, not just the scientific or latin name.

    Other than that, I will be watching it again next week for sure.

  14. Craig February 18, 2009 at 9:18 pm -

    Re Leese, thanks for the smartarse comment, but I’ve actually been told that by an RTA official, so I assume they would know.

    I liked the first episode, especially since I’m only a few suburbs from the area.

  15. Damon February 18, 2009 at 6:22 pm -

    I live right around the corner from that roundabout and it’s a shame because many of the plants that they planted have been dug up by some lowlifes. Although i’ll admit that although they did a great job, there are plenty of other places more in need of a makeover.

  16. Leese February 18, 2009 at 5:28 pm -

    Mental note: Next time I run up the back of someone after going straight through a roundabout I’ll tell the judge that Craig told me I’m only supposed to be looking to the right.

  17. Goonies February 18, 2009 at 5:24 pm -

    Who is supposed to pay for the upkeep after they have done their radical, edgy super duper gardening?

    Saw the sneak peak last night and everyone just looked like a smug idiot to me, so sorry ten I will watch something else.

  18. shane February 18, 2009 at 4:22 pm -

    Sounds like something different to the usual gardening shows so I will give it a lash.

    p.s Craig, you have to give way to all cars on the roundabout, not just those you can see to the right.

  19. Craig February 18, 2009 at 3:16 pm -

    It shouldn’t matter if there are plants in the middle of a roundabout. You’re only supposed to be looking to your right anyway, not straight ahead.

  20. Andrew B February 18, 2009 at 2:23 pm -

    At least it’s something different.

  21. retter2critical February 18, 2009 at 2:06 pm -

    Dam! I thought they were going to hide in peoples gardens and forcefuly take them hostage for an episode…..

  22. Leese February 18, 2009 at 1:31 pm -

    Know that roundabout well, and apart from it being a 5 way intersection, it really wasn’t a good candidate for guerilla tactics. Even low plants would give poor visibility, considering the main line of traffic heading away from Jannali railway comes up a hill to that intersection.

    Nothing against the concept but the execution was out of place on this site.

  23. David Knox February 18, 2009 at 12:49 pm -

    Mid year for Chaser…

  24. Jimmy February 18, 2009 at 12:42 pm -

    damn… when i first read the title i thought you had news on chasers…

  25. GuanoLad February 18, 2009 at 12:16 pm -

    If an “edgy” concept show has to tell you it’s “edgy” in its promos, then that automatically counts against it.

  26. Jimbo February 18, 2009 at 12:04 pm -

    It’s a good concept. At first, i also thought it was just another gardening show, but when i heard about what they were doing, i was like ‘cool’. Hope it works well for Ten

  27. seanie February 18, 2009 at 11:55 am -

    I think this will be the first axed new show of 2009, if not second behind Ladette to Lady.

  28. Tony February 18, 2009 at 11:32 am -

    This seems like a dopey idea for a show and I’ll be surprised if it lasts.

  29. redbullboy February 18, 2009 at 11:11 am -

    I have to admit when I first saw promos for this show I thought “Ok, here’s another garden make-over show…boring”. But after seeing the sneek peek last night that Ten showed at the end of Bondi Rescue I’m definately going to tune in – it looks a lot different to other make-over shows as, from the sneek peek at least, there was also a lot of focus on the actual “sneaking” and “disguises” that the Guerrilla Gardeners use to pull of their gardening stunts and I think this will make for enjoyable viewing.

  30. Ianblair23 February 18, 2009 at 9:57 am -

    “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.”

    This is a real issue for me. I have seen numerous roundabouts around Sydney where the plant life in the middle is far too high and creates a real danger. If these guys are addressing this problem then I am all for it.

  31. Zen Man February 18, 2009 at 9:21 am -

    It’s an interesting concept however I hope they don’t take it too far like planting trees on roundabouts and other places which might block the view of motorists and did they ever think about asking the councils for permission in the first place, i’m sure most councils would agree to have plants bought and planted by other members of the public anyway but the rebellious aspect will appeal to generation Y.

  32. slydoggie February 18, 2009 at 9:15 am -

    pietro: it can be spelt with either double ” r ” or not. They are simply variants of each other.

  33. pietro February 18, 2009 at 7:52 am -

    Pleased to see you can spell guerilla even if TEN can’t. (in the promos at least)

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