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Brighton , Mass: Tending to the City ( Garden)

  • Subject: [cg] Brighton , Mass: Tending to the City ( Garden)
  • From: adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2006 21:23:11 -0400

 Tending to the city
By Kate Meyers/ Correspondent
Friday, August 25, 2006 - Updated: 04:12 PM EST

When David Carlson puts his green thumb to work in his garden, hebs not only
helping his vegetables to grow, hebs also breathing life into the community.

    Carlson uses his hobby to feed Allston-Brightonbs neediest residents at
a free community dinner each Monday at the Church of the Holy Resurrection on
Harvard Avenue.

    "When I started, I had more vegetables than I could use," Carlson
explained. "Now I have people tell me these vegetables make the best salad
theybve ever tasted. To me, thatbs like winning the lottery."

    Recently, Carlson won something else as well. His Charles River Community
garden, near the Northeastern University boathouse, took first place in the
brand-new community service garden category in the mayorbs city garden
contest this year.

    Carlsonbs is one of four Brighton gardens, and one of 32 citywide, to be
honored in the 2006 Garden Contest, which is part of Mayor Thomas M.
Meninobs 10-year-old citywide beautification initiative. The other local
winners are Patricia Diamond, whose plot in the Chestnut Hill Reservoir
Community Garden won her first place in the community garden category; Liane
Brandon, whose Langley Road backyard took third place in the shade garden
category; and Jennie and Walter Smith, whose Englewood Avenue plot won third
place in the small yard garden category.

    No matter the garden or the prize they won, all of the gardeners are
passionate about their hobby and always experimenting with something new on
their little plot of land.

    Carlson, who started gardening with pumpkin seeds when he was 6 years old,
now grows 100 percent organic green peppers, five varieties of tomatoes,
cabbage, lettuce, sage, celery, cauliflower, broccoli and more in his garden
plot.

    "One thing about gardening is that it really is self-expression," Carlson
said. "This is for enjoyment. And itbs tremendously rewarding."

    For Diamond, the mayorbs recognition couldnbt have come at a better
time.

    "We have a very good community of people who garden here," Diamond said,
"but we were vandalized in the fall and the spring. This was just the good
news that we needed."

    Diamond, who coordinates the Chestnut Hill Reservoir community garden with
Rita McMillin, said she was "very excited" to be recognized for what she
considers to be a fun leisure activity.

    But it all goes along with the nature of the pursuit of gardening, she
said.

    "If you look at a seed, itbs pretty impressive that it can turn into a
huge plant," Diamond explained. "That you can actually get it to grow is an
achievement."

    Brandon considers her win in the shade garden category, also an
achievement.

    A first-time garden contest entrant, Brandon said she never expected to
win, but thought that she might as well give it a shot, especially after all
the years of hard work she put in to transforming her Langley Road backyard.

    "My backyard was sort of a disaster for many years, even though Ibve
owned the house for a long time," Brandon said. But then a neighbor suggested
planting flowers on the shaded hill behind Brandonbs house, and she decided
she had nothing to lose.

    "I never had an interest in gardening before. I literally never had time
to stop and smell the roses," Brandon recalled. "But little by little, my
backyard got reclaimed."

    Brandon went through years of trial and error with different plant
varieties, ultimately resulting in a shade garden impressive enough to wow
this yearbs judges.

    "Before I had the garden, I didnbt even like looking out my kitchen
window," Brandon said. "Now it feels like it adds an extra room to the house
in the summer."

    The Smiths said they find their garden to be rewarding and enjoyable too,
so much so that their perennial garden has won third place in the small yard
garden category in three of the last four years.

    "The judges are different every year, so you get different opinions of
your garden," Jennie Smith said.

    Smith, whose garden was featured in the citybs flower show exhibit last
year, sees her Englewood Avenue garden as an outshoot of her creative pursuits
as a graphic designer.

    "Gardening is another way of designing and painting," Smith said. "I think
itbs all part and parcel of it all."

    Each of the winners agrees that gardening is an enjoyable activity.

    "I think more people could find the same happiness if they just gave
gardening a shot," Carlson said.

     City garden contest winners from Brighton

    (Patricia Diamond, Chestnut Hill Reservoir Community Garden, first place,
community garden

    (David Carlson, Charles River Community Garden, first place, community
service garden

    (Liane Brandon, third place, shade garden

    (Jennie and Walter Smith, third place, small yard garden
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