“Know what I like about you? Even when you go to a city you end up doing the most un-city thing.”
My husband said this and then fist-bumped me after we’d walked through the Fenway Victory Gardens and Kelleher Rose Garden in Boston’s Back Bay Fens.
It’s true. I don’t dislike cities but put me in one with some free time and I’ll likely end up in the green spots on the map. Hey, we’re in a city. Let’s go find the trees and flowers and birds. Or should I say arboretum and botanical garden?
Fenway Victory Gardens
Recently we had some free time in Boston after an early morning errand. The map showed the Fenway Victory Gardens practically across the street; naturally, we headed there. Established in 1942, it’s one of two continuously-operating World War II Victory Gardens remaining in the United States and the only garden to have operated in the same location since WWII.
While I love wild places, I also enjoy visiting human-tended gardens—checking out the plants, as well as the pollinators and birds. My dad was a prolific vegetable and flower gardener, so I grew up surrounded by plants in our small yard. Strawberries, fruit trees, carrots, roses. It would not take a professional to connect why I find gardens comforting.
With 500 plots over seven acres, Fenway Victory Gardens offers plenty of cozy gardens to admire and study in a short stroll. What plants do people choose? How have they laid out their personal dirt allotment? Do they have any extras, such as a chair for relaxing or a soothing water feature? How many plants can one small plot contain?
Amid this verdant urban retreat, I also wondered, who could afford this prime real estate? I was astounded and impressed to learn that plots are only $40 a year for members ($25 for seniors), plus some volunteer hours; understandably there is a wait list and it’s only open to residents of Boston.
Visiting the Fenway Victory Gardens is free and open to anyone though; just stay on the paths and don’t pick the plants.
Click on an image and you can scroll through the gallery.
Kelleher Rose Garden
Green urban spaces—like victory and rose gardens, arboretums and parks—aren’t just pretty to look at. They’re beneficial for people, for nature, and the planet. And not just for the flowers, fruits, and veggies.
Green spaces, and access to them, are essential parts of cities. Frederick Law Olmsted, American landscape architect and designer of Boston’s famed Emerald Necklace, the site of all these blooms, believed that. Olmsted’s lifework was devoted to including green natural spaces in urban ones, accessible spaces that linked all people with nature and with their communities.
“We want a ground to which people may easily go after their day’s work is done, and where they may stroll for an hour, seeing, hearing and feeling nothing of the bustle and jar of the streets, where they shall, in effect, find the city put far away from them.” (Olmsted’s 1870 address on Public Parks and the Enlargement of Towns)
A century and a half later that’s exactly what my husband and I did. (Thank you, Olmsted, and green spots on maps.) It makes me wonder about semantics. Walking in those gardens, surrounded by green (and pink and yellow), did we cross a boundary between city and un-city?
Maybe our hour-long stroll wasn’t such an un-city thing after all.