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This week I’ve had the privilege of a lovely visit from Kate, of Hills and Plains Seedsavers in Adelaide, Australia. Hills and Plains is a seedsaving group numbering about 40, who meet once a month, trade seeds with one another, and blog together about gardening. Oh, and Kate is also a participant in The Growing Challenge!
We’ve had a lovely time together so far, touring our local community gardens, visiting the famous Pike Place Market, walking (and driving and taking the bus) around town, and eating, eating, eating…
It has been absolutely wonderful to take a break, become a bit of a tourist myself, and to unwind as we learn from other gardeners along our tour. Here is a taste of our visit so far:
Thomas Street P-Patch
This is the community garden closest to our house. It currently has a 3-5 year wait list for a plot. In Seattle we call our community gardens “p-patches”, after Rainie Picardo who set up the first p-patch in 1974. Here is more of the history of our patches.
It is interesting how each community garden seems to have a bit of its own culture, with unique patterns of planting, methods of growing, and types of plants grown. Thomas Street has small plots, but most of them are very packed full of one or two of just about everything each individual gardener enjoys!
Republican Street P-Patch
This garden is a the other side of our large neighborhood of Capitol Hill, surrounded by larger houses and townhomes. It was not as densely planted, and seemed to be going through more of a transition as summer crops were taken out and cole crops were just being seeded.
Pelican Tea Garden
Some of you have seen this garden before, back when I came to visit Seattle and look for an apartment. This is a tiny co-operative plot down a dark, dirty alley lined with garbage. But the garden itself is an urban oasis, full of all sorts of herbs and vegetables!
Seattle Tilth Demonstration Garden, Food Bank Garden, and Good Shepard P-Patch
Seattle Tilth is a wonderful local educational facility for Seattle gardeners, offering classes on master composting, container gardening, irrigation, urban chicken keeping, and much more. The garden itself is largely a demonstration garden, where each small bed demonstrates a new technique. When I visited in the late summer with other local bloggers, they even had a sign on their squash saying “this is what powdery mildew looks like” – ha! It made us all feel better, as it has been a particularly cold and wet growing season this year.
Like several of the local p-patches, Seattle Tilth also hosts a food bank garden that provides fresh organic produce to low-income families.
University of Washington Medicinal Herb Garden
As we took a tour through the beautiful University of Washington campus, I remembered a great little medicinal herb garden tucked away inside the campus. We found all sorts of herbs from all over the world. The cold rain had hit some of the tropical herbs pretty hard, so I’m sure mid-summer the place is just magical.
This is a very large community garden feeding 120 families on a landfill between the Magnolia and Queen Anne neighborhoods. The gardeners and their families meet once a month for a potluck and get-together, where they roast vegetables from the garden and enjoy one another’s company.
It was here that Kate found a whole plot of dahlias and was in heaven (top photo).
Pike Place Market
In between gardens, we’ve also indulged in quite a lot of local food, including some wonderful cheeses we found at the Pike Place Market. One of the cheeses was from a lovely woman who had recently been to Australia on a tour of the different cows in the region.
Today we’re off the the University District Farmer’s Market and to visit our “family allotment” at my mother’s place. It’s under a bit of construction (more to come about that!), so it will be an unusual garden visit but at least there are a few things still growing for Kate to see.
I must say it’s nice to step back some, to re-evaluate my world and my views from an outsider’s perspective. Things that are normal – like squirrels, large mountains, food banks, and bike racks on buses – are unusual to others. It’s refreshing to see normal in a new light.
I’ve also been able to take my eyes off the news, the market, the election – just a little bit. I know it’s all still there, but it’s a bit more distant and thus easier to reflect upon, easier to recognize the bigger picture.
There are many more photos on Kate’s blog, if you’d like to hear more about our visit!