Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Havelock Street Community Garden

One of my great gardening joys is always having extra plants to share with others. They pop up all on their own with no coaxing from me. They flourish and thrive and eventually crowd out the rest of my bloomers. So every year a few have to go. I give some away. Others I leave on the front lawn with "free" labels so that people can help themselves. This year I donated a bunch to my daughter's pre-school fundraiser. I thought I was done for the summer.

But then I received a note on my doorstep saying a community garden was being started. My neighbour Silvie was spearheading an operation to transform a sad patch of grass next to the local highschool into an urban paradise. Well my mind started racing. What extras have I got? What would grow well in that location? How soon do we get started? First thing Sunday, I dug up two purple coneflower, a globe thistle, and a lemon balm. I packed up my shovel, watering can, and daughter and we were off.

Upon arriving, the challenges ahead became abundantly clear. We were about to try and garden in soil that had the consistency of hardened cement. That's me all in black and with totally inappropriate footwear digging with Sally. Can you hear me groaning? Or see the sweat on my brow?

But where there is a will there is a way. Silvie was able to get a hold of some compost from the local park. With some help from fellow neighbour gardener Rob, they brought about four carloads of compost to the community garden. By the time it was all dug in, we had something that actually resembled soil.

The garden started taking shape quickly after that. Here's Silvie putting in the Lady's Mantle.

The purple coneflowers looked a bit droopy by the time I got them into the ground. But I'm sure they'll be fine. Same with the thistle. Both love the dry, blazing hot conditions this site has to offer. I still have to get back to the garden and trim the lemon balm. It was growing under a shade tree in my yard and a little leggy as a result. But with a little pinching, it should fill in nicely. I'll have to try and cut the blooms off before they go to seed so lemon balm doesn't start popping up everywhere in the garden. It's delightful that lemon balm is so easy to grow. It's not as delightful to always have to pluck up its many, many seedlings.

Water proved to be another challenge. While Rob offered the use of his hose from across the street, his plumber happened to be working on his water supply leaving us without a drop. My husband and daughter offered to truck a wagonload to us from our house up the street.

They got back just as the plumber finished his work and turned the water back on. Oh well, thanks for the effort.

After a little drink, the garden really perked up. While it's a little late in the season to get started on a garden, I like to think today was all about planting with a vision toward next year. I'm sure that as people find out about this garden, more plants will find their way into the earth and this community garden will grow.

Although this picture was taken as we started our day, I think it's a fitting photo that sums up the days events. There's always a great feeling of satisfaction after working on a garden. Here's to many more days like this one ahead.


Connie said...

What a wonderful project. It's never too late to start a garden! Vision is a gardener's best asset.

Karen said...

Your project looks like wonderful fun. I was just dropping by to offer a suggestion regarding squirrels. I'm not sure if it would appeal to you though. In my garden the squirrels have an alternative supply of food, so they tend to leave my plants alone. We have a big feeder full of black oil sunflower seeds that attracts birds and small animals. It is messy, but it makes great entertainment both winter and summer to watch the wildlife that gathers in the garden.

Owin & Irena said...

Hi Connie. I like that: "Vision is a gardener's best asset." Thanks for the words of encouragement.

Owin & Irena said...

Hi Karen. Thanks for the advice on squirrels. I'd be willing to give that a shot. I do enjoy watching wildlife in the garden. So your suggestion might be the perfect solution. I'll let you now how it goes.

Crafty Gardener said...

Congratulations to you and your friends for tackling a boring spot and turning it into a wonderful green space. Well done.

Owin & Irena said...

Hi Crafty Gardener. I had a great time working on the community garden. I hope to put in many hours into this venture. I walked past the garden this morning and it looked good. But later, the plants looked wilted in today's blazing hot sun. Rain is on the way tomorrow. It will do the garden good.

Wicked Gardener said...

Oh, this looks like so much fun!!! I wish I had an oppurtunity to do something like this. You'll have to keep us posted.

Owin & Irena said...

Hey Wicked gardener. This really was a lot of fun. I walk past the garden at least a few times a day. Some of the transplants are looking a bit floppy. But I'm hoping they will bounce back. I'm planning another trip to the garden this week to put in a new batch of plants.