Our Secret Urban Garden

5:22 PM

We get into our car and we drive. Onto a highway and off again, up a hill and up some more until Siri tells us that we have arrived. The street is quiet, urban, a hodgepodge of old brick and wooden homes with an occasional dilapidated Victorian thrown into the mix. I double check my phone, wondering aloud if Siri gave us the wrong address.

No, this is right, says Tanya, waving. A veil lifts from my eyes and I see it suddenly—a quarter acre of residential plot, sectioned off by a raw wooden fence. Three people stand inside—our friends, who found this place, and a small, white-haired man who could only be the gardener. We parked the car, opened the gate and entered another world.

It's all a bit wild—the paths between the raised beds overgrown with clovers, the adjacent brick building alive with undulating virginia creeper. Metal bones of a greenhouse, only half covered in plastic, provide little shelter to the overgrowth within. The more I look the more I see—a fish pond hidden amongst wild grass, a wooden bench beneath a vine-consumed trellis. Some garden beds are well-tended and meticulously kept, while others are bursting with last year's plantings and tall grass and dandelions. The one we pick is filled with fragrant lemon balm that was abandoned last growing season but is alive again in full force.

This is our first community garden experience. The plot is insanely cheap, the tools provided, the soil strong. We're growing quite a bit at our home this year—raspberries and blackberries, zucchini, three mints and a smattering of typical kitchen herbs—but we wanted to do a bit more. When a couple we know suggested a community garden, we jumped at the idea; it lets us share the planting, the watering and the harvest. Everyone wins.

And the garden itself? I think it's enchanted.

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