Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Sidewalk Seating November 7, 2008

Strolling around my neighborhood on errands, for exercise, or just to see what’s growing in people’s gardens, I seldom go so far that I need to stop to rest. My daughter, however, despite her seemingly boundless energy inside our house (usually manifested in racing around or jumping on the furniture), does have the miniature legs of a five year old and therefore sometimes need to stop for a break if we walk somewhere. She’s usually fine to just plop down on the sidewalk, but when there’s something more interesting to sit on, we are both happier about it.

None of the bus stops near where we live have benches, but occasionally a kindly neighbor has built or placed seating on the street for others to use. I find this very touching, the thoughtful and considerate act of providing a nice resting spot for passers-by.

We’ve tried them all out many times. This one is particularly useful, and was perhaps built for our annual 4th of July street party, which has been going on for over 50 years. It seats quite a few! Or just one, in this case.

Bench rest

Just a few houses down is an incredible garden that I keep meaning, but forgetting, to feature on this site. Their bench looks like it belongs in a princess’ castle rose garden, but it’s just on the sidewalk for anyone to sit upon.

Sweet sidewalk bench

I wasn’t sure if this was meant to be an actual bench, or if it was more of a sculpture, actually useful sawhorse, or ?? You’d have to be pretty tall and skinny-reared to find it comfy.

Skinny bench or sawhorse?

My daughter and I used to sit on these stump chairs when she was smaller. I remember watching the “big kids” play on the elementary school playground from this vantage point when she was two – and now she’s one of them (at a different school)! The stumps aren’t exactly level but they’re perfectly irresistible to kids, which is why I imagine they were put there.

Stump seats

This gardener has a whole “fairy garden” set-up, including this adorably tiny bench complete with flower pots and straw hat. There’s also a little house with a hinged lid and a sign on it that says “Please Open.” It’s way cute.

Fairy bench

What about you, have you ever put out a seat for strangers? Or enjoyed one that someone else (besides the city) built?


9 Responses to “Sidewalk Seating”

  1. Philip Says:

    Your daughter looks so cute in her raincoat, and the Princess bench, sawhorse bench,stumps and the fairy garden benches are wonderful. You know, we need more benches in San Francisco!
    I am not sure who put it up, but at the end of Mendocino village is a bench with the carved motto “Behold The Sea”
    that was a great bench to sit on after climbing the cliff from the cove below. Wild cabbage grew there below the bench and on the cliff.
    Enjoyed your tour!

  2. Kim Says:

    I enjoyed your tour, too. That curved concrete bench and its setting are lovely. We live at the end of a cul-de-sac at the back of the neighborhood, so no one comes down here but us and the neighbors on either side. Our neighbor up on the corner, though, has put a bench there at the corner. None of the school kids sit on it while waiting for the bus, but we’ve stopped while walking the dog and visited with her there on her bench. I think it’s very neighborly and makes the street look more friendly.

  3. Jen Says:

    Some good ideas here. I really do need more seating in my garden. I mean nice looking seating. Right now I have a few of those whitle plastic chairs – something more attractive is needed. We also have a stump table and stump chair that goes with it. I’m afraid the wood will break down, though. Maybe I will paint it or finish it with something.

  4. easygardener Says:

    I think that’s a lovely idea – putting out seats for anyone to sit on. The householders are very kind. I’ve never seen it done before.

  5. Racquel Says:

    Not something you would see in my area either. But then again we don’t have sidewalks or treelawns.

  6. tina Says:

    Very nice idea this sidewalk seating. I live in the country so no one sits around here on others seats, but I have used seats in parks and cities when on strolls. A nice peaceful thing. Your daughter is a cutie.

  7. AnnA Says:

    Well isn’t this a neat post. You have inspired me to create a space like this. I do have quite a few people stop to look at my flowers so maybe they would like a place to sit also.

  8. Katie Says:

    That is really nice of folks to put something out for passerbys to take a break and sit down on. I grew up in a not-so-nice neighborhood and am slowly getting over my fear of people. It would be nice to put something out front for all to enjoy. Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Jenny B Says:

    I think seating in the garden is a very important feature. Not only to invite others to sit and enjoy, but to give the gardener an opportunity to sit and enjoy the fruits of labor! I have actually seen toilets used as planters–I say whatever works!

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