One of the great perks of my job is the fact that most container gardens are public in nature – tending to planters along streets like 23rd or 21st pulls me into conversations everyday. Just today I met a client whom I had only known by email exchanges – she had left a yoga class , I was watering the pots outside, she noticed the signs on my truck and introduced herself. We chatted about plants, hellebores in particular.
People stop and talk to you when you garden much like people stop and talk to you when you walk a dog – it makes for easy introductions, easy conversation, easy transition from stranger to familiar face, neighbor.
On Saturday my quiet little neighborhood of St. Johns was inundated with over 200 UP students and dozens of volunteers from the community. Over a dozen new trees were planted along the downtown streets. Mountains of mulch and compost were wheelbarrowed through the downtown blocks to fill tree wells and planting beds…and with the help of 20 UP students and a handful of volunteers from the neighborhood, the sad, weed filled pots that anchor our public plaza were planted up with new trees and perennials provided by the St. Johns Main Street program.
It was great to see the finished product , but better by far was the watching a group of people who had never met – some who had probably never donned a trowel – all getting acquainted as they stood around a massive pot of soil and filled it up with plants. A retired Master Gardener volunteer helped an overdressed college student who gardened with an expensive leather purse over her shoulder…people passing by stopped and struck up conversations…I had expected that a Saturday of dirty, labor intensive volunteer work might not bring out the best in everyone involved, but it did.
I drove by the new plaza pots this morning as I headed downtown to fill some pots up with tulips and cyclamen…it was a good feeling, thinking of working out there on Saturday with a bunch of people I might not
have met any other way, neighbors with nothing else in common, chatting with each other over common ground.