Saturday, August 23, 2008

Community Garden

I sense a slow but steady shift these days towards more versatile use of community. Sustainable communities, building communities, community watch.... yadayadayada.

When I was married,we had a half acre back yard that was largely used for gardening. Fruits, veggies, an orchard. I think I've mentioned that here before. There are things I miss and don't miss about those days, but one especially good use of that space was to offer our goods to the community.

Now, a few years later, I am in a rented townhouse with a minute border of viable planting space, so the days of big gardening are over for me.

I have, however, found a friend who wants to have a garden, or at least wants to have living things in her yard, but doesn't have the steady interest to make it happen, so she's let me pretend her yard is my canvas and I've turned her front yard into a community garden of sorts.

Community meaning that I've filled her front beds, driveway border, mailbox plot and natural area around the trees into places that hold plants FROM the community. Yes, Julia gave me the run of her yard to pull and dig out plants, like long named things I can't remember; Tricia's mom is too elderly to manage her yard, so Tricia has allowed me to dig up daisies and cone flowers that have become overgrown; My own yard has an abundance of periwinkle and liripe, so some of that has put down roots "elsewhere", Louise gave me irises that grew and multiplied and are now in the community yard, the apartments where my oldest daughter lived was sold and everyone moved out in prep for demolition and I dug up some irises there as well, I "borrowed" Wisteria that was looking for an escape from a yard I pass when I walk to the Post office at work, and I found some cousin wisteria vines behind work church. I'm on the lookout these days for overgrown beds and I listen out for folks who want to thin out their plants.

A couple of years from now, if anything is still alive, the yard will be rich with diversity and culture, as our own world is. The only fighting is between flower and weed, or the occasional lawn mower herbivore.

I've started working towards the front side now and eventually, I think I'll have mini areas of lots of different things. I use my own compost, or that I can get on sale or at the City yard waste center, so the cost is low. It costs more in gas to get there than in materials now that the get- ready work is done. That's sad. I want to get a bike sometime, and a goal would be to ride out there on Saturdays to work a while. Like I said, it's a goal. Plus, if I poop out, my friend would bring me home I bet.

The plan is to create a yard that doesn't' really need attention. Self-sustaining. A popular word these days. When we get there, I guess I'll have to find another poor soul who will let me play in the dirt. It's hard work, but I keep my own pace and many/most days I am reminded that the simple motions of digging and putting new plant roots into fertile soil, then bedding them down with water and dirt feels comforting to me. So many things these days don't, but working outside, slow and steady comes second only to licking batter- in comfort levels.

Next year, when spring arrives, it will be interesting to see if the hours I've given to this look like anything good. It would be nice to have a positive influence on something as simple as ground.

Maybe I'll post pictures or maybe not.

If you have a place where plants grow, take the time to visit and talk out there. Plants are people, too. ...Or at least in my book they are. Special people who really don't need much from me but a little time, water, conversation and a listening ear.

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