Hello Gardeners and fellow Green Thumbs!
As Spray-N-Grow’s newest blogger, allow me to introduce myself. I am the daughter of Melanie and the grand-daughter of Spray-N-Grow’s founders, Bill and the late Ethel Muskopf. Plants and gardening have been a part of my life since birth-sometimes more than I would have liked, especially when it meant weeding flower beds in the Texas heat when I would have WAY rather been riding my bike.
In my adult life, my career has brought me from the tiny town of Rockport, TX to the great urban jungle of New York City, where I am a working actor, musician and dancer. (If you have read Melanie’s most recent post about containers in NYC, that trip was to visit me.)
It goes without saying that the landscape in New York is quite different from that of Texas. My part of Texas is all fields and windswept oak trees, whereas New York is endless pavement, bright lights and majestic skyscrapers. Even the climate amongst residents in New York is different. Melanie-or as I call her “Mom”- almost got run over by a few New Yorkers on the sidewalks of New York City. The city truly, never sleeps. Or slows down.
However, I have been able to find my oasis amongst the incessant energy in my corner of New York. If you venture to my part of Harlem, you might find a secret hamlet nestled between two apartment buildings.
This is Maggie’s Garden, and my slice of heaven in a concrete jungle.
Actually, this all of Hamilton Heights’ slice of heaven. Maggie’s garden was started by a sweet woman who lived in the apartment building next to mine. She single handedly nursed these plants and built this green haven so that families of Harlem knew a little bit of green, fresh air and solitude in a frenzied urban environment. She was a woman of little means, as are most residents of the neighborhood, but this garden was her gift to everyone of us.
Maggie has since passed away, but her garden and her legacy live on. Nowadays, the garden is maintained by volunteers who plant and weed with love to preserve their slice of heaven. Herbs were donated by a local bar, who now use the herbs in their food and cocktails. Local musicians use the garden as the venue as a place to showcase their art. Residents of the area host birthday parties and community meetings in the garden, because, let’s face it-everything is a little bit better when you stop to smell the roses.
For me, Maggie’s Garden is a reminder of my home and childhood. I may have resented all the weeding and watering I did as a child, but it is a part of who I am. Thanks to the elusive Maggie, (no one seems to know her last name) it is also a part of my adult life. This garden brings people together in a city where isolation is far too common. It is an oasis to commune, to serve, to relax and to connect. Funny how some plants and dirts can do that?
Furthermore, Maggie’s Garden reminds me that in a city where dreams are big and buildings are bigger, stopping to smell the roses is as easy as looking out the window.