Guerrilla Gardener Plants Flowers at Fort Reno

By Tom Sherwood
|  Tuesday, May 27, 2014  |  Updated 8:13 PM EDT
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A DC man planted and tended wildflowers around an abandoned Park Service building in his neighborhood.  After bringing a little beauty to the eyesore, the Park Service told him the flowers had to go. News4's Tom Fitzgerald looks at the dispute and what could end up saving the flowers.

Tom Sherwood

A DC man planted and tended wildflowers around an abandoned Park Service building in his neighborhood. After bringing a little beauty to the eyesore, the Park Service told him the flowers had to go. News4's Tom Fitzgerald looks at the dispute and what could end up saving the flowers.

A D.C. man thought wildflowers would help brighten an eyesore in his neighborhood, but has been threatened the flowers he planted will soon be ripped out. 

Raymond Natter and his wife moved to Tenleytown about a decade ago to cut down on their commutes. His daily walk included passing by the abandoned Fort Reno Park, an eyesore for some.

On a recent trip to Montreal, Natter learned about "guerrilla gardening."

"People take abandoned lots and ugly eyesores in the cities and plant wildflowers," he explained. "I cleaned up all the debris and garbage, took out the weeds. It took me several weeks, coming on the evenings and weekends."

The community, so far, has responded positively to the gardening.

"What it really shows is just a commitment to his community and I think it's fantastic," neighborhood commissioner Jonathan Bender said.

However, Natter was recently told the collection of flowers isn't native to D.C. and the Park Service was going to replace the whole area with turf for easier maintenance.

"It's clear the area is an eyesore. We want to be a good neighbor," a Park Service spokesperson said.

D.C. Council Member Mary Cheh said she has obtained a reprieve for the flowers, to see if a formal permit can be arranged to keep them if neighbors pledge to care for the plot.

Natter said if that happens, the neighborhood is in for a treat.

"Within the next three to four weeks, the wildflower garden will really come to life," Natter said.

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