The Garden Muse: Musings on urban gardens

Published 10:08 am Friday, February 10, 2023

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the Garden MuseWhile ambling around the herb gardens this morning, I caught my mind wandering down memory lane hundreds of miles away in a few different urban garden settings that I am quite fond of.

For those who may not be familiar with the term Urban Gardens and Urban Gardeners it refers to gardens that are grown in or on the perimeter of “urban” or city environments and the gardeners that practice growing in highly populated urban areas.

Usually, urban gardening is done to cultivate vegetables, fruits, and herbs, due to the lack of accessible fresh produce and or ethnic food items in these densely developed areas. This being said there are also other types of gardens to be found in urban areas, usually where you would least likely think they would be. Native Habitat Gardens, Arboretums, Botanical Gardens, and Japanese Tea Gardens are just a few of the many diverse gardens that one might find nestled in amongst the frenetic environment of urban areas or big cities.

These hidden gems are not only beneficial to humans, they also serve as respites and food sources for migratory birds, animals, and insects.

I have come to the realization that I am an ‘urban gardener’ at heart. I have gardened in many different environments, and I have realized that urban gardening provides a sense of accomplishment in the face of adversity or the thrill of ‘conquering unusual challenges’ that gardening in most non-urban settings do not. It’s a certain type of horticulturalist’s rabbit hole that I have found myself exploring … but let’s not digress.

Most large cities will have a Botanical Garden, I highly recommend visiting any of them if you have an opportunity to do so. I also recommend visiting the smaller, usually more nondescript gardens in urban locales that are most of the time hidden little gems of peaceful beauty in amongst the city scape architecture and vehicular arteries of the place.

Explore the ‘green spaces’ next time you’re in the concrete jungles of America and If you ever find yourself in the company of an urban gardener strike up a conversation, I can assure you that their part in it will be fascinating.

Dawn Conrad is a Retired Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, Herbalist, Writer and Artist. She can be contacted at