Urban Garden Inspiration

Happy first day of spring! And to help us ring in the new season, NYC had a full day of soaking rain, preparing all the garden beds for new shoots, bulbs, and seedlings. Despite the fact that I live in Harlem, a.k.a. "Concrete Wasteland", there are plenty of opportunities to garden... and if I can find a patch of dirt to work with, then so can you!

Until about three years ago, I always thought that having a green thumb was inherited or somehow a God-given gift. Then my perspective changed - I had kids. I realized that to keep things alive I actually had to take care of them. Just like I couldn't set my kid out on the windowsill and expect her to thrive, I shouldn't expect a store bought plant to live after a week of neglect. If you're just getting started or want new gardening tips, two great books I would suggest for urban gardeners are by Gayla Trail, "You Grow Girl" and "Grow Great Grub".

Urban gardening is gaining a resurgence of followers who want to bring a little bit of green to the city. Community gardens, green streets, courtyard planters, container gardens, rooftop decks, windowsill herbs, and even the fire escape have great potential to be an urban oasis. My daughters and I started working our garden last week, which consisted of churning up the dirt in our outdoor pots, pruning the perennials, and even planting some cold loving seeds that can be sown as soon as the ground thaws like Bloomsdale spinach, dark red beets, arugula, and fennel.

Right now is a great time to get certain seedlings like tomatoes or herbs who need a long growing season started indoors. Don't feel pressured to purchase expensive seed trays or greenhouses to do this - clean yogurt containers, empty tin cans, or recycled take-out containers do just fine. Just make sure to poke or drill holes in the bottom for drainage and place the lids under the containers to catch water run-off. Fill your pots with organic potting mix and plant seeds according to the seed directions. Transplant the seedlings to a larger container well after the last frost and when the weather is consistently warm.

Gardening is a source of inspiration and joy to me, and I love seeing how spring gardens inspire NYC artists!

And because I'm always the mommy blogger, an absolutely amazing book for kids about gardening is "The Gardener" written by Sarah Stewart and beautifully illustrated by David Small.

May your gardens be bountiful and bring joy to the city!


Philadelphia's Magic Garden

Quick! What do CheeseSteaks, Rocky and Eagles Football all have in common?

They each call Philadelphia, PA "home".

Last month I agreed to watch my coworker's 3 year old son while he and his wife ran the Philly Distance Run, a Half Marathon. Although Philly is a mere 2 hour ride away from NYC, I don't manage to visit all that often. And so I jumped at the opportunity not just to help out a friend, but also to take in some of the flavors (cheasesteaks!) and sights of Philadelphia during that weekend.

Located in the Neighborhood of South Philly, The Philadelphia Magic Gardens is a real spectacle!

The grounds are a winding garden of a collage of broken plates, bottles, mirrors and tiles. Sparkling with every step of the winding paths, you will find mosaics at every turn, the floor, all around you.

Artist Isaiah Zagar began tiling South Street in the 1960's and in order to preserve his dedication to this massive project, a nonprofit organization was formed by artists and community members in order to promote it and keep it alive. On some weekends there are also live music performances.

I highly recommend a visit to the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, you'll never look at a broken piece of glass or tile or bicycle spoke the same way again!

Washington Square West, 1022 South St., Philadelphia, PA 19176

by Lorina Pellach-Ladrillono of The Original Beadscarf