It’s easy to tend your garden in the spring. It is full of beauty – the pale green shoots on the trees, the roses in full bloom. But to tend a garden in winter is to ‘dwell in possibility’ as Emily Dickinson might say. It is a cold, damp place that smells of rot and decay. It takes imagination and the ability to see a different kind of beauty. It is an act of faith and patience. Faith that you are planting the seeds in the best place and patience to wait until spring to find out.
I have the good fortune to be a member of Hooker Alley Garden – a community garden just a block from our apartment. The Recreation and Park Department manages over 35 gardens that are on City-owned property. Our garden, named for Civil War Army General Joseph Hooker, was created by a group of volunteers over 30 years ago. It was a garbage filled alley that was frequented by drug dealers and then rescued by my neighbors. I was on a waiting list for four years before I became a member.San Francisco has many community gardens like mine. They are the City’s best hidden secrets. Some are managed by the Recreation and Park Department, others are self-managed. The very first city garden I was aware of is the Fort Mason Community Garden that sits above Fort Mason. It is the easiest garden to visit as it does not have a locked gate (as ours does). Most gardens have at least one day per month when they are open to the public for viewing. I think that the best one to visit with children is the Michelangelo Community Garden. It is situated in the Michelangelo Park that is on Greenwich St. at Jones St. There is play equipment in the park, a basketball court and a restroom.
While children are welcome in our garden they must stay on the paths and not enter any of the plots. I have found that the best activity for our granddaughter in the garden is watering – either with the hose or a watering can- with careful grandparent supervision!And speaking of gardens, since it is Giving Tuesday won’t you consider becoming a member of The Garden Conservancy? This marvelous organization spearheaded the rehabilitation of the gardens on Alcatraz. And if a garden can grow on a rock in the middle of a bay, it can grow anywhere if well-tended and loved. A lot like a child.