Urban Garden Denver Blog

For the common good

Every day on my way to work, I drive by a “public” garden on a small triangle of land that was left-over from highway construction several years ago. Some of the neighborhood streets were re-aligned during the construction and there is a triangle of public land next to the roadway that boasts hardy flowers. Left alone, this land would probably be mowed once a year by the city to keep down weeds, but some community-minded gardener has been tending the plot for several years and it is blooming with hardy roses, salvia and more.

Seeing these flowers pleases me on several levels. First of all, I am encouraged that someone cares enough about making the community a better place that they put some effort into flowers that can brighten the roadside. Secondly, the boldness of the flowers is a quirky statement of unwillingness to be discouraged by the sea of concrete across the street.

I have seen evidence of people spreading the joy of flowers in other settings, such as blue flax blooming along the highway, undoubtedly from seeds sprinkled by a secret gardener. But this triangle oasis is the most permanent unofficial common garden I have observed.

The idea of “the commons” is from agrarian societies, where livestock would graze on common land. The oldest public park in the U.S. is Boston Common, which at one time served as grazing land for cattle.  I certainly enjoy the common spaces we share in Denver with our lovely park system. I could go on about the economic analysis of the commons and public goods, but instead I’ll just link to an overview of this topic. Much of what is wonderful about cities is the way we band together to fund things like parks which benefit all of us. Hopefully some of the concept of the common good will survive city budget cuts.

This weekend in my garden I will be enjoying flowers and doing some weeding and trimming. Cutting back mums now encourages sturdier plants and denser blossoms this fall. They can be cut back through 4th of July (a simple benchmark). I also need to transplant a few groundcovers in my parking strip that are right next to the curb, since the city has decided that replacing our curbs next week is part of the common good. I’d rather have the large hole in the next block fixed, but someone decided that this project was more important. Enjoy the blooms of June in your garden and in the common gardens.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: