A guerrilla gardener is on the loose in the Westport area, trying to beautify blighted areas that once sat barren.
Guerrilla gardeners grow plants, herbs and vegetables on public pieces of land that are in bad condition.
Glenn Stewart has a green thumb but, until recently, had nowhere to use her talents. That is until she passed by the post office at 200 Westport Road and noticed the rose bushes were struggling. She asked if she could spruce them up, but fixing them wasn't enough for her.
"I thought you know, ‘I could just start a little garden and, if nobody gets upset, good,'" she said.
But some people who were loitering around Westport businesses did get upset that Stewart was on a mission to clean up the area.
"Some of the guys that hung out here. They chased me around a few times. The cops were called, that kind of thing," she said.
Soon, she said, the power of plants took over and, with each new addition to the growing garden, the number of loiterers started to dwindle. Their squatting spot was soon filled with over 50 types of plants.
"Things kind of took care of themselves. Mario's was able to stay open longer. They open early and stay open longer. That made them happy," Stewart said.
The owners of nearby restaurant Mario's were so thrilled with the positive change, they allow Stewart to use their water line to keep the garden alive. The flourishing garden garnered a new name – The Magic Garden.
"It sort of came to me when I first started on it because it survived no matter what. It survived the elements. Some of the soil wasn't good," Stewart said. "It survived some of the characters and that's magic."
The Magic Garden attracts more than just people.
"The wacky doves almost say, ‘there she is.' They make all this noise and talk to each other as I get the seed out of the trunk," Stewart said. "They know me now. They know my car. It's hilarious."
Some might call her a guerilla gardener, but Stewart said her creation is a guerrilla garden with a little bit of permission. The result is a garden that allows anyone to stop by and trim some fresh herbs to take home.
"It helps me because I'm going to trim them anyway and of course I use them," Stewart said.
She asks that anyone who stops by to trim some fresh herbs from the garden do it from the top down. She said many of her friends and community members donated plants and ornaments and she also searches for discounted plants to grow in the garden.
Stewart is now focusing on the side of the building facing the Kansas City Public Library Westport branch.
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