I went to visit my best friend Michelle in New York this weekend, and while I was there, I was reminded of one of my favorite ruralicity treasures. I really love urban gardens. Not just a public park or a flower bed here and there, but a proper garden, tended and cultivated, and most importantly: Tucked away. The best ones are hidden. One of the things I miss most about living in the country is the privacy. It's hard to find places in the city to pause, take a breath, gather your forces around you. I'm a big Gone with the Wind fan (Scarlett 4 lyfe), and I think often of the heroine's need to go put her feet on the red soil of Tara to regain her strength. There's a big difference between a fictional Georgian plantation and an urban garden, but the principal applies. It is finding a grounding moment of stillness in an otherwise jostling city.
Here are two beautiful urban gardens, one in the West Village of New York and one in Capitol Hill in D.C.
You can find the Gardens at St. Luke in the Fields on Hudson Street in the West Village, near the Christopher Street subway stop. It is open to the public and there are plenty of benches throughout. Most importantly, if you ask me, cell phone use is verboten. Two minute rant, I think cell phones are destroyers of patience, peace and human relations. I love places where you are not allowed to use them. Anyway, I recommend picking up a lavender latte at Upright Brew House on Hudson and Perry, then sitting here with a book. This feels like the kind of garden for Alice Munro or maybe John Cheever.
Meanwhile, in D.C., you can find this gem near Capitol Hill in the 200s on 6th Street NE. The Hilton Community Garden apparently has quite a waiting list for one of its 44 plots, but that does not stop me from perving on it every time I walk past. I think this is a really pleasant neighborhood to take a walk in: Stop by Pound the Hill (621 Pennsylvania Ave SE) and get one of their STUPIDLY good watermelon-basil slushies, then take a stroll.