Art Flourishes in Community Gardens

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A huge snake made of sandbags covered with concrete and painted provides seating and a setting for imaginative play at the Soutside Community Garden in Sacramento, Calif.

Gardens and art are inseparable partners supporting and enlivening each other.

There’s magic in both.

And in some of the community gardens I have visited, artists have done great work creating masterpieces that bring people in, surround them with beauty and offer them the opportunity to connect with one another and with nature.

Community engagement is what community gardens are all about, right?

I have often said you don’t need to be a gardener to enjoy the gardens. There’s so much more than vegetables and flowers growing and being nourished.

The creative expression can be playful like a maze to wander or a half-wrecked boat to pretend to be the captain of the seas. It can be a shelter of branches that provide a shady tunnel to explore or a sunflower house big enough for children’s programming.

I have seen sprinklers in the shape of great trees, concrete snake seating made of sandbags and painted with happy colors, and welcoming hide-aways such as bean pole tipis.

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Art can be functional and beautiful like this entrance gate to the Peralta Community Garden in Berkeley, California. At some gardens, the entrance gates are sculpted metal flowers and vines. I have seen fences and arches made of garden tools, tile sundials and mosaics depicting hawks, flowers and insects.

I have lots to share from my travels and I’m hoping you’ll share too.

If your community garden has art incorporated into the landscape, please send me a photo. I’d like to start a regular feature showing this creative side of community gardens around the world.

Thank you. Natalie

 

 

Touring California Community Gardens: Fun, Sun and Lots of Ideas

Here are three highlights of my recent adventures in California visiting community gardens from Sacramento to the Bay area:

LaybugSacramento: There are waiting lists four and five years long to get into some of the gardens and if you visit, you’ll see why.  The pride and care that goes into the city’s Parks and Recreation community gardens is evident in the upkeep, the design and the spirited innovation.

There are fruit trees growing, individual gardener plots, even a small vineyard (It is California after all!) and artful ways of conserving water and engaging gardeners. For example, a sculpted cistern shaped like a ladybug collects water from giant metal flower basins.  This is just one of many artful touches.

BayerSanta Rosa:  A bilingual garden at the Bayer Community Farm with signage in Spanish and English. This is a welcoming space with garden plots, a large area with a dozen colorful picnic tables, a labyrinth and a teepee trellis house for children.  The garden space accommodates young and older with raised beds designed for people with disabilities.  One of the nicest aspects of the garden is that it is adjacent to a recreational space that was buzzing with activity as neighbors played sports, skated and rode bikes.

PotHill copySan Francisco:  In most gardens your attention is drawn down to ground level where the vegetables, flowers and herbs grow. In Portero Hill Community Garden, located at the edge of a ridge, your eyes look up and out to see a breathtaking city scape. Perched on land that was once the abode of the goat lady of San Francisco, this is a striking garden and so well tended.  The gardeners here love their spaces and it shows.

More to come….

BTW- Sacramento is agricultural zone 9. They plant tomatoes in March!