With the weather getting warmer and sunnier (in between showers) the gardens of Southeast Portland are flourishing. And not just flower gardens, although the roses, peonies, ranunculous, chrysanthemums and Shasta daisies are going berserk.
The city of Portland has 53 community gardens. These are empty lots in residential areas which have been built up with raised beds, fenced and gated. People put their name on a waiting list, wait their turn, and get their hands dirty! These gardens are part of Portland Parks and Recreation Department and are a wonder to see.
All winter the gardens wait in the rain, their plots under cardboard (to keep the weeds down) or gloriously muddy. Around March, intrepid Portlanders head out in boots and slickers to place stakes or build teepees. And by June, things are busting out all over!
Yesterday while we were out walking we saw sunflowers higher than my head, beds of lettuce, and waves of berry bushes. Climbing devices await peas, beans and tomatoes. Joyful gardeners smile idiotically with the sheer joy of sunshine and soil.
Of course, with all this love of agriculture, not everyone is willing to wait for their turn in the community garden. Some folks just plant their dream farm right in their own front yard! Many yards are overshadowed by giant trees, but those with sunlight find a way.
My parents were suburban farmers. They fortified the sandy soil of Manhattan Beach, California and grew carrots, lettuce and kohlrabi. We had fruit trees and artichokes. I currently have no burning need to become an urban gardener, but it is nice to know there is a way, should the need arise.