Across the street from the Washington Animal Rescue League is a community garden. In the winter it looks like a huge vacant lot. But, come spring, little by little the lot is no longer vacant. People start weeding their plots wearing heavy winter coats. Planting begins right after the last frost. And then -- like magic -- the vacant lot is transformed into a burgeoning, bountiful garden right off of Blair Road, a busy street connecting the District of Columbia to Maryland.
By this time of year sun flowers are tall and in full bloom; gardeners harvest an assortment of vegetables for their dinner tables; and Roberta, a League volunteer, cuts flowers from her garden plot and decorates the shelter and medical center's lobby and waiting room with bouquets of color.
The city garden across from the League reminds me of one of my favorite books, City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan. It's the story of how an abandoned lot smack in the middle of a city block. is transformed into a place of beauty and purpose. It also tells how the newly created garden brings neighbors together. When Roberta recently took me to see her plot in the garden across from the League, she introduced me to a fellow gardener, a woman whose thriving plants gave the appearance of a small farm. She and Roberta talked plants and swapped stories about other gardens.
Truth by told, I am not a gardener. I plant a few tomato plants each year, some years I'm successful, some years not. You don't have to be a gardener to be inspired by the Oglethorpe Street community garden across the street from the League. However, reading City Green, and the plans for starting a community garden listed at the back of the book, just may give you an inkling to try your luck at planting. If I remember correctly, I planted one of my very first tomato plants shortly after reading City Green.