Gardener Stories

Patsy Kline

Year:
2011
Neighborhood:
Tremont

Patsy writes: " I consider myself a new gardener even though I grew up eating what my grandmother and mother grew in their gardens. They canned, froze and dried what we ate over the winter. My grandparents also raised livestock, so we ate very well. It wasn't until I bought my house in Tremont in 2002 that I started taking gardening seriously, I suppose because it had always been so familiar. My yard and garden was a challenge-- my goal was to remove all the grass and create an edible garden mixed in with traditional bedding. I also wanted to plant items that are visible at night-- a moon garden--to aid in safety, because the area where I live has issues with broken street lights and vacant buildings. My garage had been used as a motor-cycle chop shop and the building next door is a...

Rita Griffin

Rita Griffin

Year:
2011
Neighborhood:
Hough

Rita moved to Cleveland as a child 48 years ago. She and her husband moved into his family’s home when their first child was 6 months old and they have lived here for almost 36 years. Rita discovered the pleasure of gardening 4 years ago and has been planning and planting ever since. She has created a number of garden “rooms” some with water features others dedicated to butterflies or birds. The garden around the side deck is for her husband who loves to sit on the deck with the sound of water nearby. Rita will be unveiling a new garden on Saturday June 25th dedicated to a very special person in her life. This is a secret so we will not reveal who the person is, but visitors can find out on the day. Rita is already planning another surprise for GardenWalk 2012!

Rita loves...

Elaine Taylor

Elaine Taylor

Year:
2011
Neighborhood:
Lee Harvard Miles

Elaine and her family moved into their home in 1967. At that time the Harvard Community Center across the street was a convent for Dominican nuns. Her mother was raised in West Virginia and always had a vegetable garden, a tradition Elaine continues to this day. Elaine grows all her vegetables in containers behind the garage where the sun is strongest. Elaine remembers the big apple tree she would climb and settle into to read for hours as a girl. The rhubarb plant growing against the house was there when the family moved in in 1967. Elaine left Cleveland for college and lived in Atlanta and Scottsdale for a while, but she missed Cleveland with its seasons, parks and cultural opportunities and returned in 1976.

Stephanie Foster

Stephanie Foster

Year:
2011
Neighborhood:
Lee Harvard Miles

Stephanie is a Clevelander who was raised by her great grandmother Hattie Baskin and her great aunt Obealus Lanham in the house where she presently lives.  They took care for her as a child and she took care of them in their old age. In 2003 Stephanie began to work on the garden, she cleaned out the old flowerbeds and planted perennials and annuals. Each year she collects seeds from her flowers to sow the next year.  A seventy year old rose bush grows on the west side of the house. In 2010 Stephanie began work on a private memorial garden on the north side of the house dedicated to her great grandmother and great aunt.  This has become a treasured retreat from the challenges of daily life.

Charles McKnight and Randy Shorr

Year:
2011
Neighborhood:
Detroit Shoreway

Charles and Randy  bought their home in 1988. The house had been a boarding house for the previous thirty five years and every inch of the garden was paved over for parking. Once all the cement had been removed they found several inches of sand, which Charles discovered indicates that the land was once lakefront property.  Initially Charles mapped out what he wanted in the garden. They reused  sandstone slabs they found to create walkways and designed and built the deck which wraps around the west side of the house from the back.  A hemlock, weeping cypress, and pussy willow can be found in the back yard. Charles is very proud of his hosta gardens, gladiolus and hydrangeas which bloom prolifically thanks to the coffee grounds he digs in around their roots. Look for ground cherries...

Mark DiDonato with chicken

Mark and Fran Di Donato

Year:
2011
Neighborhood:
Detroit Shoreway

Mark was born in Akron and came to Cleveland in 1994 to attend John Carroll University. He left after college and returned in 2004, living initially in Ohio City, before buying his present home in 2005. Mark’s back yard looks like a little farm with raspberry and blackberry bushes growing next to a concrete driveway and numerous containers seeded with vegetables. Mark has six hens, an arauchana who lays blue eggs and two handsome black and white rock hens. Mark and his grandfather built the multi-level henhouse which provides an area to lay eggs and a lower level where they scratch for worms in last year’s composting leaves. Mark is planning to build a spiral herb garden where the micro climes within the spiral accommodate different types of herbs. Fran, Mark’s wife says children from...

Hand-painted rain barrel at Fat Cats

Ricardo Sandoval, owner of Fat Cats Restaurant

Year:
2011
Neighborhood:
Tremont

Ricardo grew up in Rocky River and opened his restaurant in Tremont in 1997. He was one of the “pioneers” who nurtured the renaissance of Tremont as a hub of great dining and creative enterprises. Fat Cats Restaurant has an herb garden in the back and a large vegetable garden at the side where Katie Maurer helps Ricardo grow heirloom vegetables for use in the kitchen. The restaurant also has several brightly painted rain barrels and creative bicycle racks ready for the Cuyahoga Valley bike trail to be completed.

When asked what he likes about Cleveland Ricardo replied, “the mix of people.” He enjoys being part of the “comeback” of Cleveland, being part of the solution, providing employment for locals and a stepping stone to a better life for others.

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