Sharing a Happy

ClareBroommaker's picture

This is the lot we've have found for our next garden endeavor. It's right next to an interstate. We intend to plant fruit trees and flowers, though there are already sweet peas, maypop, and lots of Dutch clover (I found a 4-leaf). It's small so probably not more than a dozen trees 15 feet apart can be squeezed in, which means we must never skip pruning. Must plant around the limestone foundations of one and a half houses. The other half of the one house foundation is on the highway side of the fence in the photo. There are some slabs of concrete, but there is some small chance we can get them out.

Today, standing at the overgrown back corner of the triangular lot, I looked over the fence at a pile of concrete rubble covered with fox grapes vines, and I heard a peculiar sound, small but constant. At first I thought it sounded like trickling water, then like a cheap old transistor radio, then like a lot of baby birds! I looked just a little closer to see if someone were camping under the thick vines and had left a radio on. My phone rang. It was my sister who suggested it could be bats which have found roosts among the rubble....Well we shall see....Too bad my rabies vaccine effectiveness expired last summer.

The neighborhood is called Carondolet and is one of the first areas where Europeans lived on this side of the Mississippi. Every here and there, one can see a small home that was unmistakably French built. It is where Dred Scott lived. One cool modern thing is that the city compost site is just a few blocks away. (Free compost for the hauling!). I think dtrammel wrote a story that centered on a building (on Broadway, David?) in the neighborhood.

Oh, see that dip in the vegetation on the fence? That is where a car came flying off the interstate and crashed into the house that had been here. The house was irreparable. That's why there is now a vacant lot.

Right now, I'm just calling the lot "Wilmington," for the street it is on. "Should we go over to Wilmington?" "Leave the loppers in the trunk; we'll need them at Wilmington tomorrow." That feels awkward to me. I hope we think of some way to refer to it that feels more natural to us.

add photo: 
Blueberry's picture

Calling the lot Wilmington Farm?

ClareBroommaker's picture

Farm sounds a little pumped up. This is small, smaller than many suburban backyards.

What a great idea!

A suggestion WRT the concrete slabs. IF (and that's a big if) you can get them out without breaking them up into rubble, they become 'citystone'. We repurposed our broken-up concrete sidewalk (for various reasons we had to replace it) into a patio in the far backyard. My dear husband and dear son laid out a square of gravel and set the broken sidewalk on top, filling in and around the gaps with more fine gravel and sand. The spacing between the broken sidewalks made the finished patio larger than the original sidewalk's square footage.

Could those slabs be reused for something more useful like a terrace just big enough for a table with an umbrella, two chairs, and refreshing beverages?

ClareBroommaker's picture

I think of commons as meaning publicly held and available for all to use. It's definitely private, a family garden.

My next job over there is to start poking the soil more thoroughly to determine where all the foundation and slab is, then how we can space the trees. If I'm lucky there will be a slab just where it is convenient and we won't even have to move it. Some seating, shade, and cold beverages sound wonderful.

You know what, though? My mother had a series of low retaining walls where she sort of terraced a slope in her own urban back yard. She used chunks of concrete rubble to do that. I thought it looked charming and it was certainly functional. I can't remember where she got the rubble, but I think she just carried one chunk at a time from a dump spot in the park next to her house each evening when she got off the bus from work. I have a couple of pieces in my back yard garden that are flat on top so I worked them into the ground for stepping stones in the narrow space where we pass to get to the alley. Old concrete chunks are useful.

The concrete rubble wall sounds very nice and it really repurposes something that would otherwise be wasted.

If you want to cover it, low stonecrop works really well. I have it all over my yard. Or maybe thyme or creeping phlox. Beauty and usefulness in one.

As for the name. I didn't want to put this in the headline. The garden is private so I understand why you don't want Wilmington Commons. I can also see why you *>really<* don't want Wilmington Privates even though the name corresponds nicely to Wilmington Commons.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Ha-ha! Wilmington Privates!

I think both stone crop and creeping phlox would appreciate the alkalinity of concrete. Probably the thyme, too, as that is something else my mom did-- planted creeping thyme in the cracks of her concrete patio. (See from whom I learned gardening?)

Hey, just for story telling, I have quite a bit of stonecrop. I think it is sedum golden acre, and I stole it originally when I was in high school. On my way home from the library there was a house with it spilling onto the sidewalk. I snitched about a quarter inch piece. Took it home, quickly made a macrame hanger for a little telephone line glass insulator. Put soil in that and stuck my stonecrop in it, hung it in a north facing window. Bits of that original have moved with me even when all my possessions fit in a duffle bag. Now, 45 years later it spills over the sidewalk at my own house.