Cross Country Gardeners

By Lauren

Admittedly I’ve been eating vast amounts of strawberries and garlic scapes during a trip back to Southern Ontario and back west through the states.  During my travels I’ve been wide eyed for gardens of all kinds.

Visiting friends in Toronto’s cabbage town I passed by carefully tended front yard gardens and at Ryerson University I was greeted with tomatoes and squash growing outside big stone buildings. In Kensington Market folks have a tradition of planting less conventional gardens in a rusted-out colourful car (the community car) complete with herbs in the trunk and windows filled with dirt.

On the train west, I caught glimpse of a small garden on the outskirts of Chicago bordering rubble from old buildings beside the train tracks.  It emerged in the midst of a vacant lot and was full of trellises surrounded by leaning wooden fences.  When I arrived in Chicago’s downtown friends pointed out lavender fields from which you can also see skyscraper cityscapes.

While walking Lola, a friend’s bouncy teacup Schnauzer who is sat in my lap as I type, we meandered through giant rhubarb, flowering sweet peas, climbing beans, and all sorts of tangled vegetables. We are in Seattle, wandering under trees and archways, amidst compost bins and rain barrels.  This garden fills the space in a way that suggests it’s a wise soul that’s been within its city space for quite some time.  Gardens seem at ease in Seattle, along sidewalks, on balconies, and in ordinary yet extraordinary places.  In this spirit of growing, Seattle’s first urban food forest (and one of the first of its kind in North America) has recently been granted seven acres within the city and will be rooted in permaculture principles.  Wonderful.

I’m inspired by the persistence of gardens and by the imagination and hard work of those who garden.  And even though my aunt harvested huge broccoli heads from her Hamilton backyard around the same time we last had snow in Canmore, I’ve hope for my first try at mountain gardening as well as for all different sorts of gardens, astonishing in how they can challenge our perceptions of growing: where and who and how and why.

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