Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Creating a Boulevard Garden

Changes began to to the western end of 31st Avenue on February 8 when the the grass along the sidewalk and curb was dug out. Some of the dug-up sod was placed upside down in the middle to form a slightly raised bed. Cardboard was sourced in a nearby alley and placed over the site in order to discourage the grass from growing. A few leaves were scrounged to partially camouflage the cardboard and to provide additional organic matter. The area awaited the next dramatic phase.

On February 11, a city truck delivered a hot and steamy load of their compost to the block; one-half of it was dumped here.

Over the following weekend, the next door neighbours decided to create a boulevard garden, too.

Now there is a great big blank slate!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Shadow of a Garden

Here are two quotes from Joe Eck's and Wayne Winterrowd's, Our Life in Gardens, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009:

"In the end, you cannot separate a mature garden from mortality, for on even the most casual stroll through it you are reminded of your own, in a tree grown to maturity or even a patch of snowdrops multiplied from one bulb into a hundred. One can learn to accept the fact that one's own demise and the demise of one's garden may be approximately simultaneous. Actually, that is our greatest hope, for it won't be at all pleasant to see the garden go before we are ready to. But great gardeners we have known have told us that you can get used even to that idea. We are working on it." (p. 277)

"...gardens always depend on the constant care and the vigilance of their creators. After that, they are shadows." (p. 312)

I began this blog in the fall of 2008 with the first front yard vegetable garden that I had seen in the west side of Vancouver. The garden was prolific and, with its substantial wall, resembled a Mediterranean locale. These two photos are from October 2008:

In May 2009, wooden stakes were ready for the tomatoes on the left and beans on the right. The winter cover crop was not yet entirely turned under. Peppers, planted in black plastic pots, were given a hot spot to grow on the wall.

Walking by in December 2009 and January 2010, I began to wonder about the gardener since the garden looked too empty.

In February, upon inquiring of some people on a nearby sidewalk, I found out from a teenager with a skateboard that the man who gardened there had gotten very ill and passed away. The teenager said that the gardener had insisted on using sheep manure as the best kind. Someone else said that the gardener had given vegetables to him. What a loss, of both this expert gardener and highly productive garden plot; both have no doubt inspired many people long before front yard vegetable gardens became so popular in urban areas.