urban gardening inspiration

Nob Hill white camellia, December 2015 (iPhone photo)

Aching to get out from behind a desk in a windowless room at school this winter, I've been daydreaming about working at a local garden store like Dennis' Seven Dees or Portland Nursery where I could be on my feet moving instead of sitting on my rump all day. Sitting, as they say, is the new smoking. The last few years, I've been in my most stationary job since my call-center days in college, only with even more hours glued to a seat. Plus, after reading books lately like Anticancer and the Cancer Fighting Kitchen, I am filled with a renewed urgency to seek the healing benefits of nature, its fresh air, its beauty, and its colorful, nutritive foods as our most perfect, holistic medicine.

Since it's almost spring and time to start thinking about the backyard again, I've combed my phone-camera archive for inspiration shots of tiny city gardens snapped quickly to and from health care appointments over the last several months, mostly in the Pearl District and Northwest Portland. I detect a theme: rock outcrops combined with grasses, succulents, dwarf trees, and mulched bare earth—a look reminiscent of spare, highly manicured Japanese gardens.

Nob Hill landscaping, November 2015 (iPhone photo)

Pearl District succulent planters, November 2015 (iPhone photo)

Succulents can function like hardy blossoms filling in a large planter pot. (See a similar look of mine here and mini versions here and here.)

Pearl District concrete planter box (iPhone photo)

In this alcove, the brown mosaic tile wall blends in with the color of the dirt below amid the rocks and plants, all framed by concrete disappearing into the sidewalk and the building.

St. Johns road repaving, February 2016 (iPhone photo)

Even a road resurfacing can spark creativity with its textured grooves and planes. For example, my housemate and I are planning to repurpose concrete deck pads gotten off Craigslist as large stepping stones for our backyard walkway (seen here).

Milwaukie wooden trellises with climbing roses, October 2015 (iPhone photo)

Pardon this blurry shot taken from a bus window, but I thought these wooden chevron trellises with the climbing yellow roses quite lovely.

What nature is inspiring you this winter, heading into spring?

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