Urban Spaces

A small garden beneath a spacious sky. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

A small garden beneath a spacious sky. Photo: Lorene Edwards Forkner

Even the smallest plot lives much larger than its footprint.

My Seattle city garden provides food, flowers, and a welcome dose of beauty most days of the year. As I write this blank grey skies are unleashing yet another “atmospheric river.” But were I to bother to put on shoes and a coat we might have fresh-picked greens sautéed with last season’s garlic for dinner tonight. Outside my kitchen window the buds on the witch hazel are beginning to swell and aggressive hummingbirds fitfully vie for their turn at the feeder. Day after day this tiny-but-lively garden tethers me to nature’s dynamic dance. I am endlessly enthralled.

Even in the city, perhaps especially in an urban environment, gardens, parks, and green spaces provide a connection with nature and grant us room to breathe—thanks in no small part to the vision and care of dedicated horticulturists and volunteers who tend these living landscapes. In late November, just as we were wrapping up this issue, we learned that Ruth Bancroft, founding gardener of the remarkable garden in Walnut Creek that bears her name, had died at the age of 109. How perfectly right it is that our yearlong Working Gardener series wraps up with a conversation with Walker Young, assistant curator at The Ruth Bancroft Garden today.

Gardens—and gardeners—are generous and inventive. It doesn’t get more urban than Los Angeles. But just less than a mile from the busy streets of Beverly Hills “a California love story” plays out in a garden devoted to native plants and nurturing wildlife. Equal to the delight and respite these open spaces afford visitors, these botanical cracks in the sidewalk serve as a vital foothold for nature in our increasingly crowded and paved environment. For those of you in the area, we hope you’ll join us at The Gottlieb Native Garden for the first PHS open garden event of 2018; details on page 5.

Welcome to another year in the garden.