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Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Wednesday, 7 October 2009 11:18 UK
Guerrilla gardening in Manchester

protesters dressed as a human shrub and a gorilla
Direct action: making a green protest in city centre Manchester

In the half light of dawn, a man in a monkey suit crept out of the shadows of Manchester town hall and carefully planted some geraniums. This is guerrilla gardening in action.

The quirky protest is, of course, a hardy perennial of the British political system: the target this time, the 2009 Conservative party conference in Manchester.

Taking direct action in Albert Square was Greening the UK, a campaign group whose activists also include the 'Human Shrub', who's been described as gardening's answer to Banksy.

What they do is to go into urban spaces and transform them with plants and green foliage without asking for permission.

Planting

One of the activists, wearing a gorilla costume, told BBC Radio Manchester why they were they taking planting into their own hands.

The human shrub
The Human Shrub: gardening's answer to Banksy

"There's been a 50% decrease in planting in urban areas in the last decade and we're trying to highlight the consequences of that," he said.

"Plants help to fight climate change and also have an economic and social benefit in terms of bringing local communities together.

"And through guerrilla gardening, we're trying to highlight that to the people at the Conservative party conference."

Tim Briercliffe of Greening the UK said the decline in planting across the UK was a serious issue.

Councils are definitely losing out," he said. "Any town or city which is not involved in planting is losing out from the climate point of view, and from the employment of view.

"All these areas look so much better and life around plants is better than life without plants."





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