A guide to greening cities -- with or without permission

We have all wandered past certain lots, filled with garbage, neglected for various reasons. David Tracey wants you to bring back the birds and butterflies to these vacant lots. And he shows us how in his book Guerilla Gardening: a manualfesto. This manual is geared to get urbanites off the couch and outside planting. Tracey, executive director of Tree City Canada, an ecological engagement group, operates the EcoUrbanist, a non-guerilla landscape design company. He's passionate about making our cities come to life and believes that if land is being neglected, regardless of who owns it, then something should be planted something on it! His easy to read, quick witted and optimistic manual has plenty of useful tricks: finding cheap (or free) plants and seeds, plants to attract birds and butterflies, advice on when to ask permission and -- of course -- things to tell the police when you're caught planting at 2 am. Some of his inventions are both practical and whimsical, like the seed bombs using Christmas ornaments filled with soil, fertilizer and some pre-germinated seeds – perfect for throwing into those hard-to-reach spots that need some sprucing up. The book is also packed with gardening tips, companion seed charts and glossaries. There's even various designs for "sod sofas" and "lawn loungers," furniture carved of earth and then seeded. These green couches are fun to sit on and even more fun to look at. Tracey has a lot of fun with this book, writing about "fertilizer and all that crap," and giving "the dirt on dirt" while explaining some of the ecological issues surrounding land use. Guerilla Gardening will appeal to those in the 20-something crowd, who are not die-hard environmentalists but would like to get involved as well as the urban gardener who would like to see flowers in the city. Guerilla Gardening: a manualfesto, David Tracey, New Society Publishers , ISBN: 978-0-86571-583-7, $23.95