Somerville…Gardens?! Yup, Somerville – in all it’s paved, hilly, urban glory – has a fantastic garden club. I’ve been a member for several years now and the amazing monthly newsletter alone easily covers the $25 annual membership fee. But don’t just get the newsletter, go to the meetings! You’ll be impressed by the range of topics covered (Shade Gardening, Creative Container Gardening, Wildflowers of the Fells) and every meeting begins with a roundtable discussion where members ask plant and gardening questions of other members. The community of gardeners – somer certified horticulturalists, some long-time Somerville residents who’ve been gardening in the same plots for years, some new residents and new gardeners – is inspiring and gives amateurs like myself the opportunity to ask questions of some real pros.
When: 7:00 P.M., the second Wednesday of every month
Where: Tufts Administration Building [TAB], 167 Holland St., second floor, wheelchair accessible (A ten-minute walk from the Davis Square MBTA stop. Parking also available.)
My Own Somerville Garden
I don’t have much green space around my home – like many Somerville residents our lot is barely larger than the footprint of the house – but we do get nice sun on front porch and this is where every year I plant a small container garden of potted annual and herbs (see photo above). In the back of our house we have a “yard” that used to be concrete. When we broke up the concrete we discovered several large pieces of slate that looked like old bathroom stall doors. (The previous owner of our home worked in facilities at MIT – maybe the slate came from an old bath there?) We were able to salvage some of the slate and made a garden path from the larger pieces. Because of the extreme shade offered by the enormous Norway Maples in our neighbors yard I’ve had only limited luck with the shade perennials I’ve planted. The hostas, ferns and lenten roses seem to do the best. Our side yard is common to the condo association and was planted with rhododendrons and hydrangeas that have flourished under our care (or maybe it’s the acidic soil and the soil amending we’ve done by adding our own home-grown compost, made in our city-subsidized compost bin).
If you’re interested in urban gardening, definitely check out the Somerville Garden Club.
And remember, before you plant anything in your soil that you’re going to eat, get your soil tested. (Many urban areas have high levels of lead in the soil.)