If you read my Q&A in the recent newsletter, (link here) you learned that after returning to Cincinnati I became what I call a landless gardener. I have had many gardens at Ault Park and now do a considerable amount of gardening at the Bettman Nature Center. I garden in public spaces, in great part, because it’s the only way I can garden. Here’s five reasons why every gardener should garden in public spaces.
Break out of Your Routine You know every inch of your garden: the plants, the critters, as well as the wet and dry spots. Your garden has become an extension of yourself. If you want to grow as a gardener, you need to challenge yourself. There is no better place to take on such a garden challenge than a public spot of earth someone else assigns to you.
Social Gardeners are social creatures by nature. We want to share what we know about our plants and learn from others about what they are growing. I can promise you, there is nothing more enjoyable as a gardener than talking garden shop with new people every day.
Education There is always something new to learn with gardening and the best way to learn is hands-on. Don’t look for a garden like what you already have, go for the extreme opposite. If you love shade gardening, build a prairie garden. If you are most comfortable with edibles, try a dwarf conifer garden. Challenge yourself, expand your garden know-how.
Add Beauty to Your Community It’s too easy, and quite simply an excuse to say, the city, the government should take care of that. Yes, perhaps, but if they won’t or can’t, what’s stopping you? I have found it to be a great honor and privilege to be entrusted with public land and allowed to create my vision for the space for everyone to enjoy.
More than a Garden Often I would be tending a garden at Ault Park and a visitor would walk by several times. When I would stop, make eye contact and say, hello, that person would engage me in conversation. I have learned over the years of gardening in public spaces that many people just need someone to talk to, tell their story to. They need to connect with another person.