For the last four years, I have written about the challenges of urban gardening—that is, gardening without any actual yard or lawn, only concrete strip next to the sidewalk and the tiny patch of dirt around the tree in the sidewalk. Over the years, I have been flabbergasted at neighbors who have picked my flowers, dug up the marigolds around the tree, walked off with entire potted plants, and plucked and eaten my tomatoes right in front of me. I have adopted several methods of deterrence to stop the pilfering. For example, to prevent pranksters from walking off with plants hanging on the railing around the house, I planted morning glories this year to replace the hanging plants. Just let them untangle those unruly vines!
But now that I am moving to a new house with an actual garden behind it—a garden that won’t be on the street and therefore will be protected from human predation—I find myself already missing the myriad exchanges I have with neighbors on a regular basis, while watering or otherwise tending the garden. Hardly a day goes by when someone doesn’t stop and say, “Beautiful garden.” “This must be the botanical gardens of Hoboken.” “It reminds me of my grandmother’s garden in the old country.” “I’m teaching my child vegetables from your garden.” “I’m teaching my little girls colors from looking at your flowers.” And best, “This place used to be so dead. You’ve brought it to life.”
Here’s what it looks like today–compared to what it looked like before I started my garden. It’s brought me far more joy than I ever could have anticipated. For all its challenges and limitations, I will miss it.