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1984 Takes On Guerrilla Gardening Granny

I've just spent a few moments reading about June Turnbull a 79-year-old Guerrilla Gardening pensioner who has come under the scrutiny of the nanny state. She hasn't come under the watchful eye of the Wiltshire county council because she's on a terrorists watch list- her crime is that she's operating "without the necessary "Section 96" safety licence" as she tends to a flower bed on public land. For those of us not versed in bureaucracy this means that she doesn't have a permit to garden on public land, she's not wearing an orange safety vest, she doesn't have a look out and there aren't signs warning motorists work being done ahead.

According to the article by the BBC she has been tending to this flower bed for the past six years, the Daily Mail reports she's been doing it for eight years. For between 6-8 years June Turnbull has been biking for a half-mile from her home to the roadside planter to work in violation of "Section 96" without anyone noticing. Two years ago Urchfont won the title of Best Kept Village in Wiltshire which residents credit to June's commitment to the flower bed. I assume the county council must have been aware of winning this award-perhaps they thought the county council fairies were responsible for the garden that sprang from nowhere.

I understand the need for safety especially where someone of June's age is concerned. It would be a travesty to hear that she was hurt in some way while working to beautify her community and participate in a hobby she obviously loves. In an effort to ensure for her safety has the county taken into consideration that Mrs Turnbull has been disabled since contracting polio in her youth? If the "Men At Work" signs in England are anything like the ones in here in Chicago I don't understand how they think she would be able to manage to drag three of those around on her bike since she tends to the planter when she can spare a few moments.

Part of me hopes that she continues to work on the garden she created and violates "Section 96" but I also want her to remain safe so she has many more years of guerrilla gardening ahead of her. This weekend in solidarity with June Turnbull I will go and plant something in violation of "Section 96" and I will do so without an orange vest and signs about work being done ahead. I'll also write to the Wiltshire County Council and ask that she be given some leeway because from the quotes in the Daily Mail article she sounds ready to spend time in jail. Lets hope it doesn't come to that.


  1. And here I thought it was only in the U.S. that the government wants to be your nanny. I don't see this trend coming to an end anytime soon, unfortunately.

  2. What a wonderful woman, I hope she continues her mission. MBT if you do violate Section 96, get pics :)

  3. MBT - we should get t-shirts made that say "Keep Gardening, Granny."

  4. Lostroses,

    I was thinking the same thing but then I remembered those police cameras I saw on the news in England where the police admonish people who do things like littering or jay-walking or ride a bike on the sidewalk. I don't think we have it as bad here as they do there.


    I wouldn't miss the opportunity to be able to take a pic of something like that. Although I'm thinking anything I do plant somewhere would probably die in this heat.

    Maybe I have a hens 'n chick that survived the winter I can plant somewhere or some sedum. I'm thinking a succulent plant would do ok in this heat.

    I'm kind of hoping that she'll spend at the most an afternoon in the local jail for violating the order. It would be interesting to see people rally around her and support her. Too often the media focuses on people who do bad in this world and don't give credit to people like this lady.

  5. Hi Mr Brown Thumb,
    This just about hits the nail on the head just how stupid things have got here. Busy body council officials have been given more power and in the name of 'Health and Safety' they are destroying so many things.
    I think its time for a revolution....

  6. I am one for guerilla gardening, I am all for June Turnbull. I wonder, however, if the city would have reprimanded her if she had a little sandwich board that read Caution: Gardening Granny. I would happily make one for her, or rather three: one for each side of the triangular patch of garden. I would also like to send her a florescent vest.

    I just read the BBC report myself, and to be honest, it's not such big deal. It doesn't seem as though they're angry at her for gardening,
    it seems it's more a question of safety on her part is the fact that the patch of land is an island in the middle of a three-way intersection.

    There are no fences surrounding the plot and the roads look to be meant for cars. The article states that the county orders two workers at any given time, and I think someone should keep an eye on the 79 year old Gardening Granny in case a wayward car happens to careen in her direction.

    Also there is no mention of a sentence. The only legal procedures against this case is a city council meeting to try to get a license to allow work to be done on this little patch of land on an island located in the middle of a three way intersection. There is no mention of jail time or fees.

    The worst that could happen, says the BBC article, is that June Turnbull be banned from gardening there. But I don't foresee that happening. Garden on, grandma! But let me first make you a sign or three.

  7. It seems that common sense goes out the window when regulations are developed to protect people. On one hand, (at least in the U.S., folks have a tendency to not accept responsiblity for stupid actions, so laws and regulations are passed to protect people from themselves. The result is usually some whacky interpretations, such as with what's happening with Ms. Turnbull.) Surely they can think of a better solution.

  8. Anonymous12:47 AM

    This just borders on sheer stupidity, doesn't it? Too many lawyers and bureaucrats with far too much time on their hands...



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