As summer heated up, my Mom and I tended our tiny guerrilla gardens — and found allies along the way.
One day my mom descended the steps towards her little garden in a Rosedale Park. As she approached, she noticed that a good Samaritan had put down some topsoil and added a few plants.
She was a bit shocked at first but we tried to reframe the experience.
“I think someone has been inspired by your little garden, Mom,” I told her.
Over the next few weeks, she diligently watered the expanded garden. She noted that as her spring pansies started to fade, a new generation of geraniums and zinnias — planted by the good Samaritan — were coming into their own. “They’re budding out very nicely,” Mom told me.
Toronto entered a heat wave with daily temperatures into the 30C range. Still, mom set off each morning from her apartment with a watering can, and often returned later that day, to keep her garden watered.
Fans and allies
Along the way she discovered she had some gardening fans — and allies. “Just a quick note,” she wrote, “to tell you that while I was watering our pansies, a lady stopped and mentioned to me that she has already met and chatted with you when you were digging in the garden! Her name is Mary and she has kindly offered to do some watering for us once in awhile.”
Mom also said she had been visited by the good Samaritan who had placed the soil and extra plants around the little log garden. She couldn’t recall the woman’s name but had thanked her. Meanwhile, she noted that many people “had stopped with complimentary comments about our mini garden. I like to think it is appreciated by most of those who use the steps, up or down.”
“So you’re the mystery guy”
Over at the gritty northwest corner of Pape and Cosburn, I was quietly watering my Tiny Garden #3 one morning when the crossing guard approached me: “So you’re the mystery guy with the flowers,” he said.
“Yeah I live down the road and I thought the corner needed sprucing up,” I replied.
“Well people appreciate it and were wondering who put them there,” he said, stepping out into the intersection with his stop sign.
“Thanks for keeping everyone safe,” I told him.
My tiny garden now had some other allies:
While I was out of town one week, my Thorncliffe garden friend Debi and her husband dropped by to water it. The couple are guerilla gardeners in their own right. They have planted two beautiful trees at one entrance to a major grocery store on Broadview Avenue. The trees — a silver maple and locust — are flourishing with some occasional TLC by Debi and her husband. They seem to have been adopted by the grocery store grounds crew as well, who keep the grass well cut around them
Hope and inspiration
Another gardening friend, Mike M., who was awaiting some major surgery, wrote to me: “I’m sure the fun, colour and HOPE of the transformation of that grey space will put people right at the core of natural beauty, and may inspire them to spread the beautiful concept.”
On that note, my friend Reshmi, a former colleague in health care communications, gave me a large flower pot to expand the tiny garden, and offered her help with the expansion. And Mike R., who rides his bike through the intersection daily, said he would keep an eye on it during his commute to work. Friends and fellow citizens were coming out of the woodwork to support Tiny Garden #3.
Did I mention the cashier at the Wine Rack across the street? She told me: “Oh I love those flowers, I wondered where they came from.”
So much goodwill for the little guerilla gardens — the gardeners are feeling blessed!