In the Garden:
New England
March, 2005
Regional Report

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Gardening brings people of all ages together.

Give a Day in the Garden

Gardeners not only love to share, we can get downright giddy about it. We all can point to a plant that came from a grandmother or aunt or close friend, or even from a stranger whose garden we admired while on a walk one afternoon. Our passion for sharing plants is what enables us to avoid having to toss a single one of the hundreds of precious seedlings that we overenthusiastically start for our too-small gardens. There's always someone delighted to take some of my delphinium and calendula seedlings, and I can always count on getting some of a friend's extra leek and tomato starts.

But I have a confession to make: When it comes to sharing time, I can easily get caught up in my own lengthy to-do list -- especially during spring, when the planting window is as short as it is here in New England. And I'm betting I'm not alone in this gardening frenzy. So this year, I'm vowing to take more time away from my own garden and devote some gardening time to someone else that could use some help. There are always nursing homes with gardens that need to be planted, school gardens that could use some weeding, elderly neighbors that would dearly love a pot full of pansies, town parks that need some flowers. If we all donated even just a day's time, what a difference we could make in our communities!

A Community of Gardeners
Another idea has surfaced among some of my gardening comrades. We typically swap seedlings and dig up overgrown clumps of perennials to share, and then we go home to our own gardens and plant in solitude, which is fine -- even heavenly sometimes. But a lot of the time two pairs of hands are better than one in the garden. And more fun.

So this year we're going to trade garden labor in addition to plants. Our efforts are just a different take on community gardening. We will be a community of gardeners. We'll all come to my house one day, for instance, and spend a couple of hours to spread a big pile of compost over the vegetable garden. Another morning, we'll go to one friend's house to help remove rocks in a newly dug garden area. Another day we'll help a friend start a new wildflower meadow. Everyone's busy, so spending only two or three hours at a time should make it more manageable.

Some neighbors and I share pickup loads of mulch every May, so this year we also could help each other spread it around. One friend has horses so she has manure to spare. I have a tiller that can travel. One neighbor has a small tractor that can move rocks around. Another has large rocks she doesn't want. We can help each other get the big jobs done in a fraction of the time it would take to do it ourselves.

Refreshments are a must for these gardening gatherings; after all, every good helper deserves a decent coffee break. I can see it now -- the task at hand will be overshadowed by good food and good conversation. Not a bad way to get some work done.


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