On the way home from the Tilth plant sale last weekend, I made my family do a pull-over so I could go back and photo a planter box on the street that I’d spotted. It was in a rather sad and lonely stretch of cemented-over parking strip, just placed on top with a square-foot-gardening overlay. I thought it was pretty brave of whomever had put it out there, they must really really want some extra space!
Of course, once I was out of the car, I had to look across the street and see what was going on over there, where the cement was confined to the sidewalk and the parking strip was completely planted up. I was admiring this kind of naturalized-looking garden on the corner…
when the biggest parking strip planter bed I’ve yet to see in my entire life caught my eye, just one plot over:
I didn’t do a very good job of capturing the immensity of this thing – it’s easily 20 feet long, and probably a good 18″ high, fully planted with a tree, flowers, veggies… like a mini farm right there on a semi-busy street.
Basic but super sturdy construction, using 2 X 6es and posts, nailed together. This is quite a pea patch for a street garden! Collards too.
Salad greens galore, plus marigolds to keep the baddie bugs away:
The iris, tulips and tree are permanent residents, with veggies and annual flowers rotating in and out with the seasons:
Looking down the street, it seems the neighbors have gotten into the act too, with similar, although smaller, beds.
While I was out there admiring and photo-ing, the owner happened to walk by. I always feel a little funny when my stealth missions turn out not to be so stealthy, but this fellow was friendly as could be and actually seemed excited to talk about his street garden. Turned out his story was pretty interesting, so I’m really glad I happened by at that exact moment and met Gary.
When I asked him about his really impressive raised bed, he said it used to be even bigger, and stretch all the way from the sidewalk to the street. This was many years ago, before planter boxes in the parking strip were anything but extremely rare. Someone from the city saw it, didn’t like how cars couldn’t open their doors if they parked next to it, and cited him and requested it be removed. He said okay, how can I get a permit and do it right? The city didn’t have a permit for sidewalk raised beds at that time, only some rules which weren’t so easy to work within. So Gary helped get the permit process shaped up and ended up with Seattle parking strip raised bed permit # 0001. To me, that makes him a legend.
Why does he garden on the street? To get more space and sun, to make something beautiful, to have more home-grown edibles, to meet neighbors and passers-by, to spread the word on gardening in this way. How cool is that? I hereby dub him Agent 0001, Licensed to Till!