Saturdays with the Garden People

The first weekend after I arrived in New York, I went for a walk in Riverside Park. I came upon the 91st Street Garden and was enchanted. At the time, the tulips were in bloom and I was blown away by their abundance and colour.

Especially the orange tulips. They were like fireworks exploding within the green.

I noticed a woman working in one of the plots so I asked her about the community garden and whether they needed any volunteers. Delighted, she gave me the website and email address of the gardener in charge and told me how I could volunteer and eventually even have a plot of my own one day. Equally delighted, I signed up for Saturday mornings with The Garden People.

This past Saturday I completed my second morning of volunteering. It felt so good to kneel in the soil, dig around a little, and pull up weeds. It’s extremely satisfying to clear patches of weeds. (Similar to the thrill of checking off a ‘to do’ list.)

It surprises me that I enjoy gardening outdoors so much when I’m terrible with houseplants. I’m neglectful with houseplants and they usually die of dehydration within the few couple of weeks. But outdoors is different somehow. Part of it is the public aspect of it. I think beauty belongs to the public, not hidden behind walls (though it’s nice to have beauty inside of walls too), and so I love that anyone can walk by, stop, and enjoy the garden.


I loved this plant. Would that I knew its name. The orange is incredible (I’m obsessed with orange flowers) though it doesn’t show up that well in this photo. I think we should plant it in the rock garden at Loretto College (hint, hint to anyone who may see this blog post!).


Spending a couple of hours in the garden on the weekend has been a great way to find, not quite solitude, but a sense of peace amid an otherwise hectic city. It feels like a form of prayer Рquiet reverence and care for creation Рas I work in the soil and marvel at the variety of leaf and petal.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains us and governs us and who produces
varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
– St. Francis of Assisi, Canticle of the Sun


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Malcolm Guite

Blog for poet and singer-songwriter Malcolm Guite

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