March 14, 2015 - Blackland Prairie Sampler was planted. Visit now to read about this new garden plot added to the Garland Community Garden and visit throughout the spring to check up on its progress. Nearby we will be planting a bed to demonstrate a buffalograss lawn. In the meantime if you want to see established Blackland Prairies you have two places in Garland to visit: The west side of the Spring Creek Forest Preserve has a Blackland Prairie Sampler beside their parking lot. Rosehill park in south Garland on Country Club Road near the intersection of 66 (Rowlett Rd) and Country Club, just across the street from Lyles Middle School has a large expanse of Blackland Prairie.
A Place of Many Values
The Garland Community Garden is evolving into an interesting space. Our first year anniversary, April 12, is less than a month away. In less than a year we have grown from one 28 square foot bed to almost 3,000 square feet of garden beds. Like most new business entities (nonprofit and profit alike) our first year has been a bumpy road but somehow the garden and Loving Garland Green have managed to overcome all obstacles and continues to evolve. The garden often has its own unique voice that dictates to us how it will be and teaches us many lessons along the way. Even if we don't have all the answers, the garden can provide some of them for us. If nothing else, it slows us down and quiets our monkey minds so we can hear our hearts.
When I go down there to work, or when I work in any garden, the best word I can find to describe the experience is simply Zen. Time falls away and I become one with the air and the earth. I know it may sound corny, but in our insane and often cynical world, most of the really good things like love do sound corny when we try to express them. That is why those of you who travel that part of the Naaman School Road corridor see me down there so often (the blonde little old lady). I'm down there in the garden because it is a grand place of contentment and happiness for me. A garden is also a great place to heal wounds of the heart. Watching things grow is a reassurance of the grand continuum of life. Gardens and especially the Garland Community Garden mean so much to me personally. That also explains why I'm such an evangelist when it comes to gardens.
Because of our great public location and because we have no fences to keep people out, being in the Garland Community Garden is a great place to meet people. Most of the people who do stop, complete strangers, share so much of their life stories with me. It's amazing. If you are lonely and you want to meet people, come to the garden and hang out. They will be sure to show up. In the meantime you can enjoy the peace of the garden and listen to the music of the birds and the wind in the trees. Also, if you like, you can read the signs that are posted down there beside many of the beds. Perhaps the next time you visit you can bring a stone for the Medicine Wheel.
A Garden Is a Magical Magnet that Draws People In
Here is an example of five visitors who stopped by the garden yesterday to speak to me in the universal language of "garden":
A man and wife stopped by. They moved to Garland two weeks ago from Colombia SA. One of the reasons they chose Garland is because of DART. He is an American citizen, retired from the military who lived in South America for the past 20 years. He is needing some medical attention and wanted to be near the DART so his wife can easily get to and from the Vet hospital. His wife speaks little English, but is a gardener. They bought a home in south Garland and she wants to learn what plants grow well here. I speak Spanish--not as fluently as I should considering it was one of my minors in school--but I was able to communicate with her. I once danced the tango a lot and I ask her if she danced. Turns out she is a dance instructor.
A man stopped by. He is an expert on Amaranths--a beautiful plant that I love but have not been very successful with growing. He offered to grow amaranths in our garden.
A woman stopped by. A woman stopped by who has recently moved here. It was near sunset and my monkey mind was already taking me home and to my task list waiting for me there. I regret to say that I was not fully present in the moment with her. In retrospect I regret this sorely. I can see now that she was hungry and I should have asked her home to have dinner with me. She asked if she could pick some of the greens we have growing. Of course I did say yes and walked with her to tell her what the various greens are and how I prepare them. She asked if I would be down there on Tuesday and I said that I would. However, I forgot that I have two prior commitments that take up my entire Tuesday. I won't be there but perhaps you can drop by on Tuesday afternoon. She cleans houses and is looking for a job. From her life story that she shared in some detail with me she might be able to use the services of some of our organizations we have here in Garland that help women get back on their feet. If you do choose to hang out in the Garden on Tuesday on her behalf, but sure to tell her that Liz sent you. (Note: she is not homeless.)
Ray stopped by: One of the members of Loving Garland Green stopped by for a chat. I'm very interested in Ray's garden as he is installing a large aquaponic system in his backyard. Aquaponics is a great method for urban farming. However, I've tried this method and I prefer the connection with the earth. Ray has had such great success with two smaller aquaponic systems that he is expanding. Today I plan to drive over to his place and have a look.
The mother of one of my students called me: Huong Le, mother of Jennifer, one of my students in the botany elective, Urban Gardens for Kids, that I'm teaching at Beaver Tech called me. Turns out she and Jennifer were driving by and saw me. Huong Le volunteered to come down with Jennifer sometime and work in the garden with me.
So Much More to Come!
Colby's Tomatoes Galore -- a coming attraction to the garden after Easter. Colby Clark, a Garland fireman and card carrying member of Loving Garland Green, currently has 150 tomato plants growing in his greenhouse. Approximately 30 of these plants will be transplanted to this large bed in the front of the Garland Community Garden. The bed will be divided according to three divisions: For Visitor Picking (only one tomato); For Food Banks; and For Colby Only. Since we have no fences (and we like it that way) we rely on the respect of those who visit the garden.
The Patron Saint for Gardeners
St. Fiacre, Patron Saint of Gardeners
Like life, the garden continues to evolve and change. I know there was an ancient philosopher by the name of Hereclitus who once wisely observed: "You can never step into the same river twice." I wonder if St. Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners, ever observed that you can never step into the same garden twice. It's true. If you don't believe me, visit the Garland Community Garden today and then visit it two weeks later. Then you'll see what I mean. For example, who knows? In two weeks the tulips might be up.
We see many gardens with statues of St. Francis. But Roman Catholic Church has deemed August 30 as the feast day of Saint Fiacre, patron saint of gardeners. Europeans, who have recognized Fiacre as the patron saint of gardeners since the Middle Ages, celebrate this day with special masses, floral processions and pilgrimages. In France, special floats of elaborate floral arrangements make their way down flower petal-covered streets. In Ireland, citizens sing hymns written in Fiacre's honor.