Gardeners Change the World

A Small Garden

The Anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world.”  Substitute  “committed gardeners” in this thought and the results DO change our world in immeasurable ways. Master Gardener Park in Port Townsend, WA  demonstrates the power of passionate committed gardeners.  The city’s smallest park, a small triangular shaped patch of earth bordered on all sides by intersecting streets, is now a beautiful garden.

Disembarking from the Port Townsend Ferry to begin a perimeter drive of the Olympic Peninsula we had just begun to accelerate on Simm’s Way, the highway leading to the rain forest drive.  This little garden park caught our eye and had us putting on the brakes, making a u-turn to explore and enjoy this colorful garden overlooking the bay.

In early August the garden was only a week away from its formal dedication to Master Gardener teacher Mary Robson.  The garden has been transformed to a sustainable, colorful and inviting year round space.  Robson has long been inspired by her Mother’s saying “Brighten the corner where you are.”  These words from a popular hymn written in the early 1900‘s are echoed by the achievements of this small group changing a little part of their world.

Once a thirsty garden of dahlias with a seasonal burst of color followed by a long dormancy period, the garden has been transformed by the shovels and skills of Master Gardeners.  The Dahlias are still featured in their colorful splendor but now share the space with Russian sage, evergreen clematis and amethyst smokebush.

A circular path takes you through the garden bringing you to a bench with a unique 3- cornered arbor curving over the top. The bench provides you a panoramic view of the bay and the boats below.

Many travelers and even many local residents will never explore this brightened corner.  A world of hurry causes us to miss these mini marvels.  Life’s duties have most of us rushing on as we just can’t make the time to enjoy  a small garden.

And so it is as garden tour season begins and our schedules fill up fast in these pleasant weather days.  In Arizona, “Our Real Gardens for Real People” tour is March 12 and passionate master gardeners have been working hard to ready their little patch of earth to brighten your day.  Other master gardeners have grouped together to assist these garden hosts to make every corner just so carefully prepared.

When the opportunity to tour a famous garden presents itself, it is easy to prioritize the time in our schedule.  A tour of Longwood, Butchart, or Morton estate gardens is a fantasy experience.  Such elaborate gardens were built with unlimited resources in staff, money and space.  As a gardener, such fantasy is fun to experience.  This is quite different from the gardens most of us live with from day to day.  We work on a small patch of earth cultivating our space in nature.  The truth is our small gardens can be simply glorious.

As signs of spring begin to show garden owners will be readying their gardens for garden tours across the country.  It is no simple task after winter weather.  The garden owners though will be excited and anxious for tour day.  What is needed once the gardens are ready is garden visitors. As a former RGRP garden host I know the delight owners feel when they share their gardens with others.  After all the preparation I found myself lying awake the night before tour day wondering if anyone would come!

Enjoying a garden is not meant to be a speedy experience.  In truth gardening slows us down as we plant, water and wait for things to grow.  We tend to the weeds and errant limbs doing good, important and constant work.  Yet as important as this is, “Are you willing to reclaim time to simply enjoy a garden?”

If you are, then clear your schedule to tour your local  gardeners little patch of earth.  Bring family, friends and gardener want-to-be’s and look to the corners for unique plants, new ideas, inspiration and simply enjoy the pleasure of exploring a garden.  It is amazing what a group of thoughtful, committed gardeners can do!

originally published in Roots & Shoots


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