M R Gardens this spring to take it all in. Thank goodness for photos to remind me of all that happened. Believe it or not, this post (which has grown quite lengthy) summarizes just the highlights!
M R Gardens now has a tiny home!
It’s currently listed on AirBnB, and we plan to eventually post on additional vacation websites that specifically reach out to people who want to be involved with or learn from the farm. When the house is not booked for guests, we can use the space for a temporary office that’s a closer walk to the greenhouse than the home office (which is helpful when tabulating plant inventory). The tiny home may be our first big step in eventually creating a learning/healing retreat-type experience, as well as expanding the types of audiences that gain from the farm. Funny that such a little building (8-foot by 24-foot) can inspire such a significant component to the farm.
Most Delightful Moment
Roots and Wings School of Art and Design brought about 15 of their preschoolers to M R Gardens end of May.
We spent an hour together, first walking through the greenhouses and gardens, learning tidbits along the way, and then seeding winter squash and scallions together. They saw what the seed will turn into when I showed them a full-grown scallion, passing it around so they could get a whiff of the onion. The students and chaperones then sat in the shade and enjoyed a picnic lunch.
The following Saturdays, parents returned with the students to buy plants for their own garden, and one bright little one repeated to me something she had learned (how one of the yellow Roma heirloom tomatoes looks like a lemon). I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them, and I hope this first preschool tour at M R Gardens is not the last!
Most Amazing Moment
I had not been to Emily’s property in Five Points (near UNCA) since fall of 2016 when I helped her create a landscape design. Her property has some gardening challenges because it is surrounded by black walnuts, which produces a poison that can deter some plants’ growth.
|Emily's backyard - Fall 2016|
Emily's main goal is to attract wildlife, but we needed to stick to nectar plants rather than ones that produce a lot of pollen for allergy concerns. After completing her design, I gave her a list of local nurseries where she could purchase the shade plants that my nursery doesn’t currently produce, and introduced her to my helper Brooke. The two were almost entirely self-sufficient from that point on.
It's almost always breath-taking to walk into a natives garden after not visiting it for two or three years. The plants are so small when we plant them, and in the first year or two, their growth above ground is often slow because they put most their energy into their roots. I think my experience at Emily’s was particularly amazing because I saw all of Emily’s “insides”—her plant knowledge, love for wildlife, and commitment to healthy ecosystems—blossom on the outside into this beautiful landscape. I also knew that she and Brooke had formed a special professional bond to create this little urban oasis together.
Most Fun Moment
When there’s so much fun on a daily basis with my work, it’s hard to pick the “most fun” but that’s what comes to mind when I think back to mid-April, planting with Lin and Tim, M R Gardens clients who live in Southeast Asheville, along with their helper Flint, who is also a student of M R Gardens’ Emergence program. Lin and Tim like to joke about their age, and didn’t want to waste any time creating a landscape so that they have “plenty of time to enjoy it.” (By the way, they’re about two of the most hip, youthful acting people I know!)
I don’t think they had a full picture in their minds of the transformation we were making to their backyard until we placed out all the pots to be planted, and Tim said good-naturedly “Holy Sh*t!”
|Mid-April planting day|
|Flint and Lin watering|
|Don't worry - Tim is just taking a break. He helped plenty|
One unique piece about this project is that Lin wanted to incorporate some of her favorite ornamentals that aren’t necessarily natives. So we ended up adding a few plants that I don’t typically work with—and I loved seeing how they enhanced the aesthetics of the natives. Great teamwork in creating this design!
|Mid-June, Lilies are popping, next to the Catmint.|
|Heuchera, Columbine, and Foamflower|