A trip to my local
I love a nice allotment. Well before I was ever into gardening, back in the early 2000s, I lived near an allotment in London. It was also near a beautiful cemetery, and I would sometimes go for a wander around them both, watching foxes nip in and out behind gravestones of soldiers killed in World War I, watching crows bounce along the grass. The first time I found the allotment it was flush with spring growth, patches of bulbs shot out of the grass around trees and path edges. Trees in the cemetery were suddenly a garish green and shady, everything seemed slightly artificial, like Technicolor. After months of bare trees and slate skies, my colour-deprived soul felt revived by these walks.
I had forgotten all about this until the weekend, when I walked up to the Northern Suburbs Community Garden in Paparangi. It's my local. To get to it, you walk up a small paved road with tall trees on both sides. And then there it is, a wide open space, almost like an oasis of gardening and colour.
I met Charmaine, the mover and shaker behind the year-old garden, and Tim, who is there most days pottering around, or working with kids from nearby Newlands College on their plots. They gave me a wee tour, pointing out where the potatoes will go, where the no-dig beds are, glowing with pride about the apple trees they've recently planted. A thrush dug in a newly mulched bed, pairs of tui darted overhead.
The list of plants growing here is impressive; broad beans, broccoli, blackcurrants, apples, leeks, garlic, beetroot, pineapple sage, thyme, flat-leafed parsley, carrots, parsnips, strawberries, blueberries, cabbages, silverbeet, and more. There are dozens of beds, a bevy of compost bins and mains water have been connected; all set up in the last year. Not bad for starting with three beds and water tanks, which meant everything had to be hand-watered with cans.
What I really like about this garden is that it's for everyone. Tim told me a story about a lady who had been ripping weeds out of a roadside nearby for her chooks to eat. Tim had a chat with her, and she ended up giving some canes from her blackcurrant plant to the gardens, which look like sticks stuck in the ground with tiny green shoots beginning to emerge. One day he had come up to the gardens to work on some new beds and found they had already been done for him - the woman with the blackcurrants and chooks had pitched in and done it herself.
I'm hoping that in between long sessions at Wild Estate over this spring and summer I'll have time to pop down to my local, if only for the fact it's lovely to garden with other people.
Do you have a community garden nearby?