Artist Julie Stone Waring bought her house in Northern Liberties almost 15 years ago, and her garden has changed a lot over the years. At first, the yard was full sun, with a big fruiting cherry tree and grapes growing along a wall. But that has changed in the years since.
“Developers have decided to build on every inch of Northern Liberties,” Waring said. “My yard has turned into a shady yard with a few sunny spots.”
Most recently, developers built a three-story house immediately behind her yard, further limiting her sun exposure. She especially misses the evening light in the garden.
“Since I don’t have as much sun, I have been growing fewer vegetables and more flowers,” she said.
The yard has also shifted from being an adult hang-out space to an adventure playground for Waring’s five-year-old daughter, Raven. The plants in the yard share space with a hammock, a swing, a play house, a see saw, and an inflatable pool covered with mosquito netting. Waring misses having more space for flower beds, but it’s worth it. “I love creating this wilderness for her inside the city,” she said.
In spite of looming developments and a busy kid, Waring manages to grow an impressive variety of foods. Perennial fruits include raspberries, grapes, sour cherries and blueberries. She puts in tomatoes, peppers and herbs as well. Decorative plants include ferns, hostas, climbing roses, sedums, peonies, lilies and keria.
Waring has easy access to plants because she works at City Planter, the NoLibs garden store that specializes in planting custom window boxes and containers for city dwellers who want a bit of beauty.
She struggles with squirrels who eat her berries and weeds that are always just a bit out of control, but Waring says her garden has taught her a lot. “I used to want it to stay the same,” she said. Instead, she’s come to embrace the changes. It helps her cope with the way life outside the garden is always changing, too.