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A Great Way to Share Your Garden with Others

Inviting a neighbor into your growing space is a beautiful, sacred experience.

Friends in the garden
Credit: Getty Images

This summer, I had a few conversations with neighbors about our gardens. Some of these neighbors are already my friends, but others are just folks whose front-facing plantings I’ve wondered about, admired or downright envied. When the opportunity presented itself, I led with, “Ooh, can we talk about your garden?”

Just before a heat wave conspired with a drought to fairly well decimate many of our gardens, I reached out to this group of neighbors and wondered if anyone was interested in taking a stroll to visit our respective growing spaces. 

The idea wasn’t to present price-of-admission-worthy gardens, but to visit together with neighbors who share a love of getting our hands dirty. Things we were encouraged to do: celebrate garden surprises and successes, lament failures, shake our fists at bunnies, squirrels and other plant-hungry creatures, ask for advice and offer our best practices.

As a new-to-each-other group of neighbors of all different ages, we strolled, we chatted, we learned. We ended up with a handful of seeds from columbine plants ready to drop their pods. And we landed in one neighbor’s backyard for easy refreshments and to keep the conversation going.

I came home that evening filled with joy and gratitude—not only for the pageful of tips, hacks and native, pollinator-friendly plant ideas I had jotted down, but for the feeling of community connection that always comes with getting to know your neighbors. 

Unlike a gathering at a communal space like a park, this was more intimate because we let each other in—literally into the backyard, where we shared the parts of our outdoor spaces that aren’t visible on a walk around the block, but also into the parts of ourselves that are vulnerable, the parts that make mistakes by planting too close or too sparsely or water too much or forget to weed or pull “weeds” that are actually flowers. 

A garden is a sacred space, a living experiment, a place to use our bodies and explore our feelings and learn bit by bit how to care for whatever spot on the planet we call home. Inviting someone into your garden is an act of trust, a gesture of friendship and shared stewardship. After all, my neighbor’s flowers attract butterflies and bees that also enrich my garden. And spending time together in our sacred garden spaces nourishes the growing places inside each of us.

As the season tips toward fall, my neighbors and I plan to gather again to discuss favorite bulbs, swap plants we’re ready to re-home and share the last of our vegetable harvests.  Strolling to peek at each of our gardens as they lean towards their winter’s rest, we’ll hold fast to the seeds of next spring, a season that will be all the more beautiful because we will watch it bloom—through our own efforts and those of our neighbors. 

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