Monday, August 08, 2011

Farming Strathcona

Poking around a back alley in Strathcona, we met a woman who asked me about one of Arnt Arntzen's "totems" (see penultimate photo in linked post). I couldn't explain it; maybe Arnt can. But we got talking. She has recently moved to Strathcona, and has fallen in love with the area. The art! The quirkiness! The houses! And most of all, the gardens!

"The gardens! The gardens! ..." she repeated, at a loss for words to describe them.

I think she could have used "exuberant". Or maybe, "uninhibited".

These gardens are not necessarily beautiful, or fashionable; they don't limit themselves to the decorative plants, the shrubbery and carefully tended flower beds, although those do appear here and there. The plants range from wildflowers to exotics, from flowers to fruit and vegetables. And every spare bit of space is used. See:

Cucumber in a front garden

Food plants grow in landscaped front gardens,

Bush beans, snap peas, nasturtiums.

in back gardens,

Pole beans and other veggies

Between the sidewalk and the curb,


On front decks,

Tomatoes, Swiss chard

Up to the roof.


Where there is no ground for them, any container will do ...

Orderly rows of seedlings in storage bins

Greens in a styrofoam packing crate. Warm feet! Behind them, there's a pot of chives, then strawberries behind the hydrangea.

More beans and corn, and big zucchini plants between the sidewalk and the top of the sunken garden, at the level of the lane below.

Zucchini, flowers and ripe squash.

A pair of raised beds in a driveway. Plants outrank cars.

And these surprised me: in MacLean Park, which is mostly grass and play area, they have added a landscaped flower and shrub garden at the southwest corner. There are roses, blue teasels, exotic evergreens, lilies and ferns. And veggies:

I think these are globe artichokes.

The plants are over 6 feet tall, the flower a good 4 or 5 inches across.

And the strangest garden of all is this; in the mix of gravel, pavement oozings, and hardpan at the edge of an alley, rows of lettuce are somehow surviving.

Salad fixings, and weeds.

And somehow, I missed the balconies and roofs; that will have to be another day.

The gardens! The gardens!


  1. The gardeners are making the best use of space and growing edibles wherever they can. Great ideas.

  2. That is wonderful. What a great way to act locally and reduce your carbon footprint right in town. That's awesome. =) You don't have to live in the sticks to grow your own food. Bully for them! =)


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