One of the benefits of a city garden is that it provides a respite from the hustle and bustle of the modern city. With the surrounding greenery muting the sound of traffic and the feel of earth under your fingertips it is easy to imagine that you’ve been transported to a different world. I find that when I’m in the middle of an urban garden that it’s difficult to leave the peace and tranquility and go back to everyday life.
But if I lived near the West Side Community Garden I might actually never leave. That’s because this all-volunteer not-for-profit garden is more than just an urban oasis. Nearly two thirds of the 16,000 square feet garden is devoted entirely to a public “Flower Park” which includes a floral amphitheater. This sunken amphitheater and public seating area is used during the summer to present a wide variety of events which bring the surrounding community in to enjoy the gardens.
Such events include a Children’s Shakespeare Festival, a 4th of July BBQ, and a summer concert series featuring everything from a Brazilian Samba Quartet and a Jazz Trio, to a Renaissance Lute.
The gardens themselves are beautiful, and their website features an excellent section on the best times to visit depending on what you want to see. Personally, I think I’ll have to arrange to be in New York for the irises and peonies next May.
But the best part is how everyone involved in the gardens seems to be honestly excited about the project. Their website is littered with gardening tips, like the “Lasagna Garden Technique,” their events have tons of attendance, and every image of the gardens online is filled with generally happy people.
Not a bad result for what was originally a vacant lot known as “strip city” for all the stripped cars within it. The West Side Community Garden really shows what can happen when a community unites to build something: a little bit of heaven in the midst of the city.