The Onion Flower

Writer and Horticulturist

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Perspective is an interesting thing. When I’m in my garden I’m usually looking at it from a certain angle, most of it displayed out in front of me as I come down the steps that lead from the back door and out into the garden. Earlier this week I saw my garden from a different vantage point while watering plants for my vacationing neighbours.

I stopped and stared.

My garden looked completely different. I saw bare patches, invasive ground cover, small plants blocked by overgrown thugs, pots and tools in what I thought were hidden corners… Yikes!
It wasn’t all bad of course. Some things I had neglected to pay attention to were now obvious. The pretty way the three paths branch out, the flow of the water from the pond, the rise and dip of the garden from one bed into another.

What’s the lesson here? I had begun to take the appearance of the garden for granted, I saw what I wanted to see. I needed to get out of my comfort zone to gain a different perspective. I’m not searching for perfection, but a garden is always a work in progress. As Rudyard Kipling once said “Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.”

This is one of my favourite views right now, the white clematis Henryi framed by the grape arbour.




Looking Harder

Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper than the surface but a thriving food culture is often there if you look for it.

I was in Cleveland a couple of weeks of ago and despaired about the lack of fresh food in the downtown core. Nothing but gated convenience stores and closed retail shops as far as my feet could carry me. And then, on Friday morning from my hotel window I spied some tents set up in the public square across the street. I ran out with a cloth bag and a few dollars in my pocket and hit the jackpot. Greens, bread, jams, salsa, cheese and more. I bought one of everything that I could eat that didn’t require cooking and had a picnic back in my hotel room. I did a little research that afternoon and found a website for the Downtown Farmer’s Market.   They are only there once a week but this apparently is in addition to several other small markets that pop up daily in the city, not to mention the large and well established West Side Market, which has been in operation since 1912.  I wish I had the time to visit this fabulous market but that didn’t happen on this trip. I did however find the Free Stamp vegetable garden on the grounds of City Hall.

Spot the Cherry Tomatoes on the Ground?

I wandered through and picked a few ripe cherry tomatoes off the ground and some Thai basil to throw in my farmer’s market lunch. There was a little of everything in this garden and separate beds full of herbs as well.

Lavender, Sage, Thai Basil and More

I came across another vegetable garden the following day when I visited the Cleveland Botanical Gardens; although I knew I would find lots of beautiful plants there I didn’t expect to find an ornamental edible garden created by students no less.

Cleveland Botanical Garden

Apparently I sold Cleveland short. After more research I discovered that this city really does have a strong food culture. Just because it didn’t jump in my face didn’t mean it wasn’t there. If you think your city doesn’t support urban agriculture try looking a little harder. I think you’ll be surprised at what you find.

Ornamental Edible Gardens