Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ursula's Garden lends its charm to a compact community garden

June 12th dawned bright and by two thirty in the afternoon, it was warm enough for me to go out on my bike and explore my hood.

Before parking our bikes in front of our favourite coffee shop, my husband and I decided to roll down Dyke Road toward the fishing pier.

As we pedaled on the shady narrow paths towards Britannia Shipyards we caught sight of a sprinkling of smartly dressed men and women in frilly dresses. A wedding photo shoot was in progress with the rustic boatbuilding edifice providing a dramatic backdrop. The charm of this historic site extended to the administration office, a quaint shop, and a small boat barely visible through a curtain of waist-high reeds.

Back on Dyke Road, we spotted a cluster of bobbing balloons. Little children clung to their precious party loot bags as their mothers fussed and carefully steered them back to a line of waiting cars. Hm, I thought, must consider hosting a private party at London Farm...

Just as we hit Gilbert Road, I noticed a small community garden that pressed against the Food Bank orchard. Having never been to one, I had to take a closer look.

We veered to the left and made a wide turn to the right, evading cars heading in three different directions- and some rather hostile looks. Yikes!

A young man with an MP3 player plugged into his ears stood next to the only car parked in the vacant lot. Further on, an older gentleman was bent over a tidy patch in an otherwise deserted green space.

The young man identified himself as a gardener and told me that I was free to explore. I suppose it was too early in the season but most of the individual plots were bare, and looked as though still in the initial stages of preparations.

My ad hoc tour guide identified the man yonder as his father. Although the young man himself didn’t appear to be the type to get dirt under his fingernails, he seemed genuinely interested in making a things take root and grow.

The father graciously took a break from his chores to chat with us for a bit. Yes, there are a few plots left and he thought we should go to the City of Richmond to claim ours. He pointed out the orchard that bordered the garden and said that the Food Bank also welcomes volunteer to help out with their peach orchard and apple trees.

As I meandered around the garden, this man shared additional tidbits with us, such as:

· The community garden was opened six years ago

· He has been tending his plot for four years

· Even though fellow gardeners come and go at different times, you do manage to get to know them

· Some gardens are more like ambitious projects, like the one where someone had erected an elaborate structure for creeping vines

This plot appears to have a Western theme. Can you hitch your horse to that pole?

· Ursula, his neighbour, is partial to flowers; her sign display and upturned watering can were utterly charming

· All plots are encircled with chicken wire to keep rabbits out; lately though, there hasn't been any long ears in the vicinity

· Yes, sometimes things go missing but what can you do about those who do not adhere to the honour system?

I can’t wait to return to the community garden at end of summer when everything will be in full bloom and tender with ripeness. I bet the transformation will be phenomenal and well worth the bike ride!

So, stay tuned, SL readers...

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