Farther Afield

This section is about other gardens I’ve visited or been impressed by. You can click links to see more about the individual gardens or click on photos to see bigger versions.

Lurie Garden, Chicago, Illinois

I had the opportunity to visit Lurie Garden when I was in Chicago recently and, even in the “off season”, it was stunning. I had just seen the film Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf and jumped at the chance to see another of his gardens. (He was one of the designers of the High Line in New York and I take every chance I can to visit there.)

Lurie Garden is a 2.5 acre garden at the southern end of Millenium Park in Chicago’s Loop district.

Post-winter cleanup.
At the edge of the city.
The garden may be wild looking but it’s actually well-managed.

Common Roots Urban Farm, Halifax, NS

Common Roots Urban Farm is a hybrid garden in downtown Halifax right in front of QEII Emergency Room on provincial land. More than just a community garden, the farm includes a market garden, community plots, a kids’  garden, spots to sit and relax, and the beginning of a food forest. This is a pilot project hoping to inspire a community-built vision of an incubator farm in every district. It’s been extremely successful and has community, as well as government, support.

Individual plots can be rented for $30/year.
Individual plots can be rented for $30/year.
Julie's plot.
Julie’s plot.
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Wheelbarrows for everybody.
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Who we are and some of the things we do.
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Lots of structures have been built on the farm from simple trellises to drying branches to full-blown greenhouses.
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Lots of structures have been built on the farm from simple trellises to drying branches to full-blown greenhouses.
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Lots of structures have been built on the farm from simple trellises to drying branches to full-blown greenhouses.
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A fabulous use of textiles to bring in some shade.
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A half-acre has been set aside for the Market Garden.
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Tangled Garden, Grand Pré, NS

I visited Tangled Garden for the first time a few weeks ago with some friends. It’s a fantastic, wildly landscaped garden of local plants and sculptures in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia just outside of Wolfville. They also sell their own preserves, teas, homemade ice cream and various treasures and trinkets.

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The labyrinth at Tangled Garden.
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Some More of Those First Impressions

Sometimes gardens are about more than the plants we grow. There’s more to them than how colourful the flowers are or how many bragging rights we earn for our food harvests. Gardens are also about the people who first show us how to turn over the dirt and make it beautiful. Gardens are about how we share and teach and feast together. I was reminded of that this week when a few black & white photos arrived in the mail from my brother in Montréal. These were taken sometime in the 60s so a lot of time has passed, people have moved on, characters have changed. But my dad, in his quiet  way, was my first mentor when it came to gardening.

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Somehow my little brother scored his own shovel (left), ever under my dad’s watchful eye. Finished garden on the right and I’m not even gonna guess what my brother is up to. Click on the picture to get a better view.
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We had just moved into this house and, just like me in my current house today, the first thing my dad did was start digging for the garden. And every spring till they sold the house 50 years later, it was the same story. Looks like he’s double-digging here.

And my dad had his own teachers and mentors. His mother, my grandmother, had the most amazing garden…flowers, vegetables, fruit, even chickens.

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My grandmother’s vegetable garden was pretty much hidden from view at the very back of the yard behind the garage. I remember this corn!

First Impressions

I’ve been wanting to add something here about my dad’s garden when we were growing up because, whether I knew it or not at the time (and I’m sure I didn’t), he was my first mentor when it came to gardening. We grew up in the suburbs of Montréal in a neighbourhood where we had back yards and my dad used about half of it for growing things. The other half was filled with sandboxes, swing sets, and wading pools. I’ve lost all pictures from the day but my brother managed to find a few. Like this one…

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The swing set is gone and kids have changed to grandkids but the vegetable garden is still there.

The garden I remember most was the vegetable garden. Dad grew a lot of everything and always gave at least one bed to the kids. I grew my first radishes and corn there and I was hooked. But he was also a flower freak…

There were a lot of beds like this scattered around.
There were a lot of beds like this scattered around.

It’s funny but I don’t think my mom was involved in the garden at all except when it came to harvest time. And probably over the winter when deciding what to plant come spring.

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