Why have a National Neighborhood Gardening Day? When one neighbor shares the wonders of Nature with another neighbor, we strengten our communities. When we have the wonder of Nature surrounding us, we are able to build friendships - one Nature-inspired story at a time. That is why.
About 5 years ago I decided to organize something fun that would bring our neighbors together. I love to garden, so I figured I would start there. Some of my neighbors garden so I started by asking them if they would like a neighborhood gardening day. Yes! was the answer. As a landscaping professional I apporached some of my vendors and asked if they would be willing to sell for this event at wholesale. Yes! was the answer. So, we set a date, one of the neighbors offered their house for an early pot-luck breakfast, I took everyones landscaping orders (native butterfly plants, bird plants, shrubs, compost, mulch), and our vendor delivered in a huge truck! That is how Neighborhood Gardening Day started for us. Pretty easy!
What I did not know then was how many friendships would develop out of this day. Many of our neighbors know each other, stop and talk to each other and help each other, because we met at our Neighborhood Gardening Day and we garden together on this day.
For example, I discovered I have so much in common, and have built a great friendship with a now dear friend and neighbor. On the left is a picture she emailed me of a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak she saw in her garden - what a nice conversation we have had over him!
Or, imagine my surprise when a busy corporate engineer texted me a picture to find out what was hanging on his fence. See, he wanted to paint the fence and this was in his way. It was a Monarch chrysalis! The story gets better - he happened to be outside when the Monarch emerged. He texted me a picture of that moment (see below). I wish you could have seen the wide smile and sparkling eyes on his face when he was telling me about it!
Another story shared. Another friendship built. It is the wonders of Nature building friendships, one story at a time.
It is pretty easy to start your own Neighborhood Gardening Day. Start planning now so that you will be ready for your gardening day this spring. Make it your New Year's resolution. These are some steps you can take:
1) Start simple. Start by forming a group of neighbors who are interested. Maybe give a couple of neighbors a birdhouse, or share some native plants that will attract birds and butterflies. You will have lots to talk about then.
2) Find a wholesale vendor or a garden center who is able to do a bulk delivery. This will allow you to minimize expenses by sharing delivery cost, and possibly getting wholesale or bulk pricing.
3) Pick a date and send out invitations to all your neighbors, as well as a final notice to your landscape vendor or garden center. If someone wants to host breakfast that morning, let everyone know the address and time so that they can bring a tasty dish. We start our breakfast at 8 am. Mimosas included!
4) Collect orders for plants, mulch and landscape suplies as well as payment from your neighbors. I suggest you give everyone a deadline for submitting their list of items and their check. Two weeks in advance of the garden day has worked well for us. Note that, in order to attract birds and butterflies to your neighborhood, you will need to plant nectar and host plants for the butterflies - always select native plants to your area - and shrubs or trees with berries on them for the birds. Adding birdhouses, bird feeders and birdbaths will also greatly increase the amount of birds you will attract. Attracting the birds and butterflies is what will give you lots of stories to share with your new neighborhood friends.
5) Give your vendor your list of items, pay for everything, and make fiinal arrangements for the delivery date and time. That is it.
Then, you get to enjoy your Neighborhood Gardening Day! After a nice warm breakfast, our delivery truck arrives around 9 am and we all help each other unload the items at each respective house. Everyone then goes home to garden the rest of the day. It is a fun day for sure. Below is a picture of our day. We usually have 15 to 20 neighbors participate.
Remember - the real magic starts AFTER the Neighborhood Gardening Day - when everyone starts sharing their nature-inspired stories of their garden flowers, colorful butterflies, and sweet songbirds! We all need inspiring stories like these to counteract all the negativism we are exposed to on a daily basis. The wonder of Nature will build lasting friendships in your community - one story at a time. What are you waiting for? Start your very own Neighborhood Gardening Day!