Little did I know that when I hastily relocated my dying mother's garden to my apartment complex, I was doing just that. My compassionate property manager was more than happy enough to give my plants a home, and as I scrambled to plant palms and gingers between trips to the hospital, neighbors that I hadn't met in the five years I've lived here were suddenly introducing themselves and asking questions about gardening. I can't begin to tell you how much that interaction meant to me during such a heartbreaking time. I desperately hoped that the garden could someday bring my neighbors as much happiness as they've given me, but so far I think I still owe them a lot. They still make me smile after every minor interaction.
|Coneflowers thriving in the hottest and driest spot on the grounds|
|Colocasia (elephant ear) covers up AC units without blocking airflow and access|
|Bright pink and green foliage bring drama to a boring area|
From bark filled parking lot medians to a narrow strip of grass near the laundry room, I added gardens. To make the most of a raised bed between two buildings, I planted sweet potato vines to trail over the edge. To add excitement to a boring service area, I planted an outrageous combination of plants with lime green and hot pink leaves. Where an air conditioner unit created an eyesore, I masked it with elephant ears, and in one of the driest and hottest heat traps on the property I planted drought tolerant native coneflowers. I wanted to do more than add a pretty garnish of plants; I wanted to solve problems.
Even though I was the one doing the planting, my community became involved and invested in the garden - and much to my delight, they began to see it as their own. When the mow and blow crews hacked down the plants as if they were privet or pulled them up like weeds, my neighbors cry fowl. If plants are missing leaves or flowers, I'll find out all about it from concerned neighbors before I even make it to the garden myself. This attention to detail is useful if you value your community's safety, and their vigilance extends to the rest of the property and its residents too. No matter what happens, we feel safe here.
After the landscaping crew used roundup on about seven of my seed-grown fruit tree saplings, my property manager actually took the time to print and laminate signs and placed them all over the garden! The woman is amazing. I rarely walk by the office without finding her chatting in her office with one of her tenants, and whenever somebody is struggling she goes out of her way to help them through their setbacks.
|A neighbor's artful display of containers|
|Another neighbor uses her entire staircase to grow plants!|
|This lemongrass was planted by a SE Asian neighbor. Yum!|