Gardening, city-style

Chicago window boxesI’ve taken Chicago’s El three times. Once, to dinner with a coworker at my former job, while we were there running a training session. Once, in June, to see the White Sox play. And yesterday, to the Addison station, where a group of my coworkers and I disembarked to attend the Cubs’ beat-down of the Reds in front of an extremely enthusiastic crowd. We were in town for a team retreat, but managed to structure the weekend so we could make a baseball afternoon of it.

On my other two rides, I noticed the cityscape, but never before this weekend noticed the gardens visible from the train. Here and there, fire escapes and back staircases exploded with greenery and color. A few rowhouse tenants had co-opted their roof for container gardens.

Chicago cascadeI noticed mostly flowers on the ride to and from Wrigley, but on occasion, I saw tomato plants climbing up rooftop trellises and even spotted a chili pepper plant on one balcony.

I could see three separate approaches to urban gardening just from the platform of the station. While my coworkers chatted, I wandered the platform, shooting garden photos and thinking about the creative possibilities for dealing with limited space and the long shadows cast by city buildings.

It made me hopeful. I don’t plan to live in a smallish town forever, but one thing that has bothered me more and more recently has been the thought that, by moving back to an urban area, I might have to return to my pre-Iowa, non-gardening ways. Our trip to Wrigley was, certainly, a pilgrimage to a National Baseball Shrine. But it was also an opportunity to gather ideas for future gardens, even if they don’t involve digging into the earth.

5 Responses to “Gardening, city-style”

  1. 1 Nancy September 19, 2006 at 9:32 am

    Genie – we were there last Thursday and noticed the same thing on the train ride. Lots of gardens and grass but the backs of the homes looked like they needed repair. Loved Wrigley field.


  2. 2 Trey September 19, 2006 at 11:08 am

    Our first apartment was near San Francisco and all we had was a fire escape platform. In that little 5 x 5 area we had a jungle. You would have to climb up, over the window sill and step just right so as not to knock any pots over. Gardening is a state of mind and gardeners will find the smallest spot and plant it.

  3. 3 Carol September 19, 2006 at 8:35 pm

    Welcome, I believe you are now officially a gardener. If you think about plants and gardens, and what you want to plant while riding trains, watching baseball, and talking to co-workers, you ARE a gardener. You can never go back to non-gardening! You should change from “inadvertent” to “intentional”.

  4. 4 inadvertentgardener September 19, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    RV–I’m glad you got to Wrigley, too! I had the same thought as you about some of the state of repair of some of the houses. But it would be so cool, I think, to hear the El go by at night.

    Trey and Carol–I think I get it now. All those years with a balcony and no garden…now I’m pretty sure I can’t go back! I don’t know if I’m going to change the blog name, though… :-)

  1. 1 The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on September 19, 2006 at 9:56 pm

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