From Weed Patch to Community Garden
The Midtown Greenway is a 5 mile biking and walking trail in south Minneapolis. It first opened about 15 years ago, converted from an old railroad corridor. Not too long after, the patrons of Vera’s Cafe decided to turn a nearby patch of weeds along the Greenway into a garden. Happily, we were able to visit this garden as part of the 2016 Garden Bloggers Fling in Minneapolis.
The eponymous Vera, Vera Register, is the late mother of the cafe’s owner. The cafe is now closed, but Vera’s Garden still provides joy to Minneapolis walkers and bicyclists. Its first plants came from Vera Register’s home garden, along with the home gardens of cafe patrons.
Vera’s Garden is a collaborative citizen’s project, supported by the generosity of individuals, businesses, community groups, and government agencies. Some plants were obtained through the Minnesota Horticultural Society, which collects free plants from individuals and businesses and distributes them to community projects.
Diane Latham, whose garden I wrote about here, is a big supporter. She donated 350 of her own Irises and other plants, and arranged for additional contributions from elsewhere.
Boulders were donated by the city sewer department and a local construction company, and trees came from the Hennepin County Tree Trust. Volunteers keep the space looking good.
Vera’s Garden, like the Greenway, is below street level. You can reach it by staircase. Here are the flingers arriving on the July morning when we visited.
The garden mixes perennials, vines, woody plants, and annuals – I like those tall flowering tobacco plants in the right of the picture.
The garden was bursting with flowering Bee Balms (Monarda didyma) when we visited.
Paths of wood chips were soft underfoot.
I like the combination of the Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and the yellow Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).
Here’s another view from one of the bridges over the Greenway.
Benches were also donated. I like those yellow Hollyhocks on the right – I think they must be Russian Hollyhocks (Alcea rugosa). They’re supposed to be more resistant to rust disease.
An upscale housing development forced some change on Vera’s Garden, but they have figured out how to be good neighbors for each other. While some of the garden was lost, the new development provides water and storage space to Vera’s Garden volunteers.
Do you have a favorite community garden where you live?