Detroit is a huge area filled with abandoned homes and vacant land. Forty square miles of vacant land! There is so much vacant land area it is overwhelming for the city of Detroit. Infact, the size and population of San Francisco would fit into the current vacant land in the city of Detroit.
Although Detroit faces a lot of negativity on the media front, one thing is for certain, the artist types and urban dwellers of our city are not going to let this land mass go to waste. Over the last few years, residents and suburbanites have taken over the vacant lots and turned the fallow land into some of the most amazing ghetto gardens in the country. Obviously, the gardens are noticed the most when they are looking their summertime best, but have you ever wondered what happens to these gardens when the harshness of winter sets in? The creativity of the artists and the gardens becomes even more apparent when the lush greenery has turned barren.
The top two pictures represent the garden boxes that are part of Mariner's Inn, a drug and alcohol recovery center for adult men in downtown Detroit's Cass Corridor. Gardening is therapy. The residents even paint the signs! Look how perfect the empty garden boxes look in winter.
The pictures directly above show the ingenious use of old bricks from houses in the area that have been torn down. This artist is the world famous Jerome Ferretti. This sculpture is usually surrounded by some nice landscaping, but right now it looks like kitty litter!
Winter ground reveals all!
The Brush Park Community Garden, in the three photos below, are an example of perfect planning and design. Some really talented people, somehow managed to acquire a lot of new garden blocks. They have made their garden areas into true works of art. As you can see from the photo below, this garden is pretty far away from downtown Detroit. The Renaissance Center looms in the distance...
Using more decorator garden blocks, our talented gardeners
created a little star burst planter, and inside,
pods of summer seeds remain,
The photo below shows a garden that is two doors away from my own house. We have the distinction of having several really striking "scarecrows" in this garden to ward off the dangerous predators that roam the streets of the Cass Corridor!!
I really love this ghetto garden that is located two doors away from me. It's kind of scruffy but shows the dedication and ingenuity of the people who take care of it, The Michigan Works Project, located on Peterboro Street. It never ceases to amaze me how the people of our community are really honest about the food growing these gardens. I sometimes see people just staring at the gardens, but never just helping themselves to the bounty! In the summer, you never really have an opportunity to see the underbelly of the ghetto gardens...but when winter sets in, you can see all the nuances such as seed packs and little veggie totems! Once again, it looks like there was food left over from the harvest.
Finally, the two remaining photos below represent MY own gardening efforts! I took found objects from my alley and other spots about the neighborhood and scattered them on the ground. I like the look of the land when it is barren. It's fun knowing that in a matter of a few months the grey will turn to green! If you look closely at the last photo you will see one of our little squirrel scavengers perched on the fence with a bagel in his teeth! He looks deranged!
To sum it up, I have enjoyed photographing and writing about gardens in winter. I think they are just as beautiful and maybe even more interesting than the ones we take for granted in the summer! I hope you all can take the time to drive around your neighborhoods and see what's happening as we wait for the 2013 planting season to begin! Peace.