People’s Oases: Community Gardens

Driftwood and tulips. Maple St. Community Gardens. By Arbutus Railroad Corridor. Vancouver, BC. 2010. Photo by J. Chong
Driftwood and tulips. Maple St. Community Gardens. Vancouver, BC. 2010. Photo by J. Chong

Not far from home, there are more and more community gardens popping up each year. Some garden plots are quite tiny by the curbside, while others are larger and cunningly designed with a winding pathway, twisted tree branch arbour or even a park bench. Some gardeners must spend whole warm summer evenings basking in their patch of garden artistry while everyone else and their dogs, stroll by less than a foot away.

Meanwhile other gardens may be adorned with playful garden “bling” ornaments or curiosities to reflect light and attract passersby.

Hanging garden bling or curiosities. Vancouver 2010. Photo by J. Chong
Hanging garden “bling” or ornament in traffic circle garden plot. Vancouver 2010. Photo by J. Chong

Last week I wrote an article for Tourism Vancouver’s blog, on discovery of these garden gems by cycling or walking. Most local cyclists are at least, dimly aware of gardens that are planted in traffic calming circles usually on certain residential streets.  A few months before the Olympics, to the outrage of some local gardeners, some city landscaping staff accidentally dug up a traffic circle community garden near Ontario and 12th St. during their road resurfacing work. I recalled its location since I did have to cycle around the construction mess for a few days.

Only recently I got off my bike to admire a whole strip of community gardens along the abandoned Arbutus railroad corridor. For past several years, I simply  bombed down the hill on Cypress St. with barely a  passing glance to the colourful riot of floral and plant life.

Flowering spring community gardens. Vancouver 2010. Photo by J. Chong
Flowering spring community garden. Vancouver 2010. Photo by J. Chong

For someone like myself, with nearly a black thumb which can only nurture successfully less than five plants, it is a treat to have this  urban beautification while also have productive use of neglected public land that gives satisfaction to all.

Further Reading:
Chong, Jean. “Touring Vancouver’s Community Gardens by Cycling or Walking”  In Inside Vancouver Blog.  Mar. 31, 2010.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. timethief says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article and I’ll make you smile because I look out the window and witness a snowy blanket. I’m not a winter person at all. I spent too many winters in the north in sub-zero weather for them to hold any interest for me at all.

    I love gardens. I also love community gardening as it’s collaborative and cooperative work that leads to building long term friendships. It’s wonderful to see people in urban centers community gardening. I’m wondering if this economic downturn will revive the “Victory Gardens” in suburban backyards the way they did in the past. I sure hope so.


    1. Jean says:

      Thanks for dropping by, even now in the deep freeze of winter. In Calgary it was -22 degrees C earlier this morning. Vancouver is prodigous in its community gardens –over 2, 500 now. Calgary, according to its website, has less than 30 community gardens.


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