It was Halloween day and the tiny garden was dressed for the occasion.
I had stopped into a dollar store nearby for some festive black spiders and orange paper pumpkins to adorn the two pots of now-droopy geraniums at Pape and Cosburn. From a fruit shop, I acquired some gnarly green-and-orange gourds, and a little pot of cyclamen flowers to give the garden its last blast of colour before the long Canadian winter set in. People hurried to and fro to pick up candy to shell out, or find last-minute costumes for Oct. 31st.
A radio journalist had dropped by to interview me about the tiny garden. Quinton is a family friend studying at Ryerson University. For a radio feature, she wanted to learn more about guerilla gardening and so had booked time to visit. It was a nice way to bring closure to this year’s garden season, and to think about the meaning of guerilla gardening.
An act of faith
Quinton started with the specific — “What’s going on today? Describe you garden? — and moved to the universal — “How do you define guerilla gardening? What are the benefits?” I recalled my nervous SWAT mission to install the garden that spring. Gardening in a public space had been an act of faith. It had some trials but the tribulations had been worth it. The garden had put a smile on the faces of many passersby at an urban intersection that felt down on its luck.
As a journalist myself, I found inspiration in the next generation — here was Quinton visiting the scene with her tape recorder, questions and insights, to uncover garden moments and meaning. Quinton also asked if she could speak with my guerilla gardening mentor — my mom Sheila, who had carefully tended a small garden in a park near Rosedale subway station this summer.
A few weeks later, when I was chatting with mom, she mentioned Quinton had visited, and they had walked over together to her “steps” garden. As early November weather set in, some hardy pink Mums provided final blooms as the two talked about the little garden that caught the eye of so many downtown residents and passersby.
Later in November, I dropped by Pape and Cosburn Avenue to take away my two large pots and their fading flowers. They were heavy, so I parked my minivan illegally and hustled to drag them over and put them inside.
“You had a good run”
Leo the crossing guard came by. “Putting the garden to bed, eh?” he said. “You had a good run.” I asked Leo about his winter schedule — he is there several times each day to ensure the safety of hundreds of residents who cross the busy intersection. “My only vacation is in the summer when school’s out,” he added.
With the garden season in twilight, I wished Leo well. I told him I hoped to bring back the tiny garden next spring.