If you don’t really require it for your garden, The Urban Gardener probably has it. The shop at 1101 A Street, by the Murray Morgan Bridge, does not carry potting soil, racks of seeds or the magic potions that exterminate tent caterpillars.
But if your garden would be prettier with it, if you would be happier with it, Christy Scerra has it.
She’s filled her corner shop with gloves of bamboo or nitrile, hand-made bird houses, Haitian wall sculptures, gnome soaps – and antiques.
Scerra, who had an antique shop on Antique Row, has moved her goods into garden world. If you fancy a vintage plow, or a zinc baby bathtub, she can provide. She intends the bits she’s collected, recycled and “upcycled” to be touches of grace or whimsy in home gardens that are becoming homier all the time.
In Tacoma, gardening isn’t a chore. It’s exercise, entertainment, a way of life as much as a way of eating. Prime example: Jillian Renick, 3.
"It's essential, reconnecting with our roots. I like the idea of growing food" - Kristy Scerra The Urban Gardener
Jillian was growing cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, bell peppers and watermelon before she could form a complete sentence. Her mother, Amy Renick, got Jillian’s green thumb digging into a bucket garden.
“My dad had this bucket garden for years, so we went and hunted down buckets,” Amy said. “I got them on Craig’s List or for free, which was nice.”
For a cracked and punctured galvanized bucket, there is no more dignified retirement than as a kid-scale mini-garden.”
At her friend Christy’s new shop, Jillian found exactly what she wanted: A white wooden birdhouse, a deal at $8. It made her happy, and her garden will be prettier with it.
Scerra, who is also a garden designer, loves the idea of a child forming her own ideas of what a garden should be.
She likes the idea of workplace gardens, too.
When her friend, and fellow garden designer, Karen Hegarty dropped into the shop, they traded ideas on workplace gardens.
“Part of the feel is to be outside, just to have a bench where you can sit in the shade,” Hegarty said. “You could create a kind of enclosure, a protected feeling. I think shade is important, so you would want a deciduous tree. You want textures and colors and smells that invite hummingbirds.”
“A little grassy area where you can sit,” Scerra agreed. “It’s essential, reconnecting with our roots. I like the idea of growing food.”
Herbs, she said, would be ideal, particularly for a garden for which no one person is responsible. Rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme and oregano all have their own scents, shapes, textures and colors, and they don’t mind being ignored.
“All gardeners are nurturers or neglecters,” Scerra said. “I’m a neglecter, so I like herbs.”
If she had the space, she said, she would, like Hegarty, start with the bench and the shade. She would like some grass, too. She would put some plants into the ground, and place pots amid them, for height and variety.
Hanging baskets, perhaps filled with lettuce, could hide walls, add interest.
Or, in the grand tradition of Jillian Renick and her grandfather, you could go with buckets full of food and flowers, with maybe a bird house for the songs sparrows.
How does your workplace garden grow?
Are you and your employer up for the challenge of a workplace garden? If so, we want to hear from you.
Tell us the kind of space you have, the work you do, and why you think a garden is a good fit.
Let us know how you decided the size and form. Are you going raised bed or in-ground? What is your planting medium? Will you go with food, flowers or a combination? What will you do with the things you grow?
What’s your position on garden art? Do you fear gnomes? How about clown gnomes?
Over the summer, we will share tips and award prizes.
Let us know what you’re growing at work at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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