There is something about the primordial urge to get one’s hands dirty and put something in the earth and then watch it grow toward the sky. Looking out my backdoor the other day, I saw this: the Bergey children sitting peacefully in their garden picking weeds and tidying up the rows between the corn shoots. In these modern times, it’s rare to see four siblings working in the garden with no arguing and no complaining. I almost wish that I had taken this photo in black and white as it probably would be more believable if I had described this scene from the 1930’s or before. This is a remnant of the Mennonite legacy in Lansdale and their deep-seated, committment to the land that courses through their blood.
Continuing to drive to work along Cannon Avenue, I decided to snap a photo of the Rieker home and their back/side yard that is so nicely planted with flowers every year. In this case, nothing for the table, only a melange of colors to brighten up the neighborhood.
As anyone who has lived in Lansdale for more than thirty years knows, the demographics have changed. Pictured here is a Korean woman who lives on Fifth Street tending her pocket garden of tomatoes and peppers in plastic bins. It’s interesting to note that immigrant neighborhoods no matter whether in the city or in a Borough like Lansdale will constantly be changing. The reason is simple: this is the least expensive area of town and therefore, your newcomers– who are usually leaving a desperate economic situation– gravitate to the area around Fifth Street. The area once known as Little Italy is now home to Koreans, Latinos and a large population of Bangladeshis. I tried to make conversation with the Korean woman above but it was no use. I simply smiled and pointed at her garden.
In my search for different gardens, I went to another area in town known for its immigrant population: Wedgewood and Andover. This area is also a collection of twins and rowhomes with postage stamp yards that require maximum efficiency. Here is a slightly larger tomato garden in raised bed.
Yet another example of neighborly beautification is the Zimmerman corner at East Fifth Street and Clearview Road. What started out as a few flowers planted around the street sign has now evolved into an attractive bed with lavender, daisies and day lilies. Unlike fruits or vegetables, planting flowers doesn’t make economic sense. It costs money to purchase them, time and effort to maintain them and for what? It pleases our egos when someone passes and says, “What a lovely garden!”
On to the queen mother of gardens in Lansdale. This is a state-of-the-art, traditional four quadrant, raised-bed garden with a programmed, automatic sprinkler system. It even has a rebar arched trellis covered with beans. Swiss chard, zucchini, tomatoes, peas, eggplant, rosemary, thyme, basil, the list goes on and on and all planted to compliment each others’ soil pH requirements. All this work when Whole Foods is a ten minute drive away.
And for some of us who don’t want the work of a large, labor intensive garden or extensive flower bed, a few potted plants in a small, shaded nook with a fountain will do to enhance the out-of-doors, summer experience. No computer or television, just the ageless desire to be outside and enjoy “the fruits (and vegetables and flowers) of our labor which are the sweetest of all pleasures”.