Last fall, during Hoboken Grace’s 1Day event, two teams cleared out a pair of abandoned plots of land, weeding, picking up garbage and digging out stumps. Nearly a year later, the plots on Willow Avenue and Park Street are still being cared for by Hoboken Grace.
For James, the church’s Director of Community Impact and Outreach, tending to these small gardens seemed like an ideal project. After joining Hoboken Grace’s staff earlier this year, he approached the Hoboken Shade Tree Commission and offered to take care of the plots, which were quickly becoming overrun with weeds again.
“Hoboken Grace doesn’t have a building of our own — we meet in the HOPES building at 301 Garden Street,” he explained. “We want the spirit of Hoboken Grace to move throughout Hoboken and try to touch all four corners of our community.”
Ever since, James has been working to beautify the two areas, which countless people walk by each day. In addition to keeping them free of weeds, he is working to add more plants to each one.
As one of the gardeners of a different Hoboken community garden, in the center meridian of 11th Street, I also feel the value of gardens in our city. My garden was overrun with tall, robust, orange daylilies that were taking over part of the plot. So I offered the full-grown plants to James to help the new plots get a good start.
Several days of digging out and replanting them with James’ help led to the first floral contribution to the new Hoboken garden on Willow Avenue. It was also a casual way for James and I to have a pleasant conversation about our lives and what brought each of us to Hoboken Grace. Now that the daylilies are in place, James is talking about adding two silver birch trees to the design.
Most of the plants and flowers that grace the 11th Street gardens are purchased with funds from the city. It was satisfying to think that some of the plants I’d taken care of for years were outgrowing the space, and being donated on to another public city space.
While I was taking the photos for this blog post, showing the full bloom orange daylilies that remain in my plot, my previous neighbor drove by. He slowed down to chat and admire the flowers. He had been the original gardener of this plot, and he told me the history of the lilies. “These flowers were originally from my mother’s house and I transplanted them here,” he said. “The house has been sold, but it’s nice to see that these flowers from the yard are still here.”
I told him that they were so healthy and had spread so far that some of them were being moved to another plot to beautify another area of Hoboken. He smiled, and I snapped a photo of the beautiful blossoms.
It takes a community to maintain these Hoboken gardens that bring the beauty and grace of God’s creation to passersby. If you are interested in working with James to maintain these gardens, contact him at James@hobokengrace.com.
Barbara is a member of the Writing Team.