After dropping Peg off for an allergy shot a few weeks ago, I drove around the area between downtown Tacoma and Hilltop and discovered Neighbors Park. It was a small park on South 8th and I streets. I had never heard of it before and hadn’t known it existed.
We recently visited a pea patch community garden near our Tacoma west end home. One of the members showed us around and even clipped some flowers for Peg. That friendliness extended to Neighbors Park and Community Garden as well. The park has a playground with picnic tables, surrounded by a fenced-in small set of garden beds. Peg chatted with one of the garden members. He even gave her some seed pods for what he called an azalea flower, but she looked them up online and thinks they are godetia – a beautiful rosy pink flower.
The garden features beautiful flowers like red, orange and golden nasturtiums, various golden shades of calendula and a low growing plant with lovely rosy-pink blooms, probably a godetia. She looked it up online. The park is small and the garden is small, but very well thought out. It takes advantage of the shade trees surrounding the park as well as the open-to-the-sky feature.
The vegetable garden had corn, squash, rhubarb and even a few artichoke plants growing. The artichokes were in a spot that seems too shaded to produce this summer; they have a long way to go until food is produced. The community garden near our home has twenty-two members. I’m guessing this miniature gem probably has only half or a third the number.
The playground has a wood chip ground cover, all fresh and clean. The swings and play features were well maintained. There are numerous apartments in the area and homes in the area, so this little oasis must be a community treasure for young families.
When we first arrived at the park, we could hear the community gardener talking to someone just outside the perimeter. As Peg and I circled the enclosure and were on our way back to our car we ran into the person the gardener had been talking with. He described himself as both a Mexican and a grandfather. He rambled interestingly on. I asked to take his photo and he said, $5. About five minutes later he allowed me to take his photograph and tried to give him the $5. He declined, but then when he brought it up again, he took the five . . . and then gave me back the five plus a ten-dollar bill. After another ten minutes I was able to get him to take the $15 back. It was a little strange, but it felt so small town-ish . . . I loved it.