Gardening where the sidewalk ends

R.I.P. September 11, 2008

I didn’t even realize it was 9/11 until about halfway through the day today. I was feeling kind of crummy anyway, so I decided I needed to go for a walk and maybe take myself to lunch to cheer up a little.

Even my sunflowers seemed to be bowing their heads to mark the day.

Sunflower Hanging Head

First stop, Nana’s Soup House, a popular neighborhood soup/sandwich joint that draws folks of all ages, has decent food, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. We used to go there more often when our kid was smaller, she loved the grilled cheese and always had a smile on her face when we left. We hadn’t been there in a while, and I was shocked to see that the place is closed and is moving across town to Fremont. That brings our walkability score down a notch, unless something else useful goes into that space.

Bummed and hungry, I decided to walk on, hoping to visit and photograph a favorite parking strip garden I hadn’t passed by in a while, since my daughter outgrew her stroller and we stopped heading that way on our walks. The owners had sold it a few years ago, and I was hoping to find that the new folks had decided to care well for the established and wonderful garden, which had been designated a Certified Wildlife Habitat. To my great sadness, here is what I found:

Garden Death

The perfectly charming 40’s house had been ripped down, along with most of the street garden, in order to build this totally-out-of-character-for-the-neighborhood monster:

Monster House

What even IS that? A huge house? A condo development? A hospital annex?? It’s hard to see in the photo just how immense it is. I have nothing against modern architecture; it just seems like a huge waste of resources to rip down something functional to build something else that doesn’t even fit into the landscape. Not to mention all the plants they killed with the trucks, gravel, etc.

There used to be a huge stand of bamboo that ran halfway up the block. My daughter and I would stand next to it, listening to the lovely sound the wind made while rustling through, and thinking about pandas. Here’s all that’s left now, someone probably had a field day with their chainsaw:

Last of the Bamboo

One of the last things standing is this New Zealand Flax. It will probably be run over by a bulldozer next week.

Last Flax Standing

The trumpet vine is still there too, I guess that one’s pretty hard to get rid of once you have it:

Trumpet Vine

I felt physically sick when I saw the devastation. It was a big reminder, on this day of all days, that gardens are ephemeral, as is all of life, and we should enjoy what we can while we have the chance.

Nana's Sign on Snow Day


4 Responses to “R.I.P.”

  1. Krys Says:

    A sad day indeed for many reasons.



  2. Cynthia Says:

    I can imagine all the emotions you must have felt today. Sometimes it can be hard to face the past as well as the pain that can come with change.

  3. Megan Says:

    I hate to see a house with a good garden change hands. They never keep it up right. This case is extreme, though. Hopefully the bamboo will recover anyway.

  4. greenwalks Says:

    Thanks for the kind words. I’m trying to have a better day today! Builders of huge houses usually seem to skimp on landscaping, they just leave scorched earth with maybe a tiny bit of sod and few poorly chosen saplings on the street. We shall see, I plan to visit that garden again in a few months to see if it’s getting better or worse! – Karen

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