The Onion Flower

Writer and Horticulturist

The Garden

My garden is small by most standards, roughly 32 feet wide by 35 feet long, with a few extra feet here and there of awkward space where I store gardening equipment and a grill. A good portion of my space is paved as well, there is a slab of concrete under the grape arch and under my raised beds and table and chairs. This is the foundation for an outbuilding that used to exist behind my 100+year-old house. The east-facing side of the house gets a lot of sunshine so this year I have put planters of scarlet runner beans there. The front yard is also small but very sunny too and that’s where most of my fruit is.

I’ve gardened here since 2009, it was mostly a blank slate when we moved in. Covered in poor rocky soil and useless weed barrier cloth that didn’t deter the weeds but did cause flooding in the basement every spring. Originally we put in a large raised bed from scrap wood which this year was torn down and rebuilt into three smaller beds using cedar. We also put in a small pond with super hardy goldfish which have survived the past four winters and numerous raccoon invasions.

I’ve made lots of mistakes in the garden; but it’s all part of the learning experience and in a small space like this fairly easy to rectify. In many ways my garden is an ongoing experiment. What works one year doesn’t always work the next. As my neighbor’s trees encroach more and more I look for plants that will tolerate more shade. I also grow a lot from seed, sometimes successfully sometimes not. I wish my garden was bigger. I wish it had more privacy, less concrete, more sunshine and on and on. It is what it is however and it has taught me a lot. Regardless of how the gardening year turns out I always get an enormous sense of satisfaction from growing food and flowers. My garden draws pollinators and wildlife in an urban environment where most people would rather have space to park their cars.

It is laboratory, sanctuary and therapy all rolled into one.





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