Earlier this month I stopped to visit Diana Gualdoni, a resident of Laclede Avenue whose been managing the Boyle Laclede Community Garden for the past few years. She and 8 other volunteers were in the process of expanding the community garden's footprint from 16 to 20 beds to accommodate a long-standing wait list of residents anxious to lease a plot. Once funds for the expansion were approved by the West Pine Laclede Neighborhood Association, the group got to work.
Funds were used to purchase lumber to construct the additional beds and a special blend of soil made for raised beds by St. Louis Composting. When the garden started approximately 6 years ago, both Gateway Greening and the City of St. Louis were valuable resources. The city tapped into a main in the street and provided a source of water for the garden which is turned on in the spring and off in late fall.
The garden, located in a cul-de-sac at the intersection of Laclede and Boyle, is perfectly aligned with the Arch, visible in the distance above.
The east side of the garden is filled with perennials, mostly Missouri natives. Since the group's interest is focused on vegetables and herbs, Diana is actively looking for someone to help maintain the perennial garden. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Diana (see end of post for info).
Diana, in grey hat above right, assumed the leadership role from Liz Wright-Jin, who started the garden and managed it for 3 years until she became too busy with her first baby and defending her thesis. Diana had just retired from the business office of the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at W. U. and had the time and passion to take over. Since the system was already set up and working well, she said it was easy to step into the role.
Another resident that has had an immense impact on the design of the garden is realtor Erv Janko, a talented woodworker who built the gazebo, the arbor, picnic tables, trellis entries, fencing, and with the recent funding from the association, wood frames for the new beds.
Plots are 4 x 4 or 4 x 8' and lease for $15 or $30 a year. Garden rules are posted at the entry and include the line, "If you didn't plant it, don't pick it." Diana said that people seem to respect the rules and they haven't had much problem with poachers, of the two-legged variety anyway.
Members also planted an herb garden that is located outside the fenced area and is available for everyone in the immediate neighborhood to enjoy.
There is an extensive composting system, partially visible to the left.
Not surprising that tomatoes are the most popular plant, followed by Swiss chard, carrots, garlic, and in cooler weather, lettuce.
Dan Gualdoni is the resident arborist and tends the nectarine, peach, and cherry trees as well as the grapevines growing on the arbor. He is currently devising a strategy to deal with whatever critter stripped the trees bearing almost-ripened fruit one night last summer.
This is a view of the expanded garden a few weeks after work was completed. Newer gardeners learn how many vegetables will fit in their plot by using the square-foot gardening system (see strings in top garden). The temptation at first is to crowd the plot, and laying out the grid helps.
At the end of August there is a community pot luck featuring bounty from the garden. By October the garden is winding down. The last work day takes place in November. At the end of January current members are asked to reserve spots, and then, if there are vacancies, word goes out to the neighbors.
Diana says that the garden is many things to many people. Members, of course, have the satisfaction of growing their own vegetables, but in addition, people walking by will stop and rest in the garden. Last summer she met a woman who came there every day while her husband was undergoing treatment at the Siteman Cancer Center. She told Diana the setting brought her peace and tranquility at an extremely difficult time.
If you have questions about the garden, or would like to help with the perennials, please contact Diana Gualdoni at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As if the first part of May wasn't busy enough, the past week has been even more of a blur of activity in the neighborhood. Here's an example: Last Sunday the 45th Annual CWEA House Tour was taking place on Pershing Place, while 1/2 block away cyclists were gathering at Mike's Bikes for the 2nd Annual Taco Bike Ride.
Approximately 100 cyclists participated, meeting outside the shop at 324 N. Euclid at 11 a.m., then setting out in groups along the designated taco route, which meandered through several St. Louis neighborhoods. The first stop was Soul Taco in UCity, then Mission Taco in Soulard, and Taco Circus in the Bevo Hill Neighborhood. The last stop of the day brought the riders back to the CWE where they enjoyed Margaritas with a side of tacos at Gringo.
The taco bike ride is so popular that the 3rd annual ride is already on the books for May, 2016. Contact Mike's Bikes for more info.
Wednesday evening approximately 150 fans, above and below, lined up alongside Left Bank Books well in advance of the 5 p.m. start of a book signing with Cardinal favorite Yadier Molina's brother Benjie, author of Molina: The Father Who Raised an Unlikely Baseball Dynasty.
UPCOMING: Tonight, Friday, June 5, the Central West End Association is hosting its monthly happy hour at CAM, 3750 Washington. from 5 to 7 p.m. There will be cocktails, appetizers, a chance to visit with neighbors, and tour the museum. I'm anxious to see Green Varnish in the courtyard, an undulating field of succulents. There's a demonstration class to learn more about this type of installation on Sunday.
Tomorrow, Saturday, June 6, Alderman Lyda Krewson has scheduled a workday in the Delmar Sunflower Garden, just east of Third Degree Glass Factory. The photographs, above and below, were taken two weeks ago when approximately 70 volunteers planted 15,000 sunflower seeds.
Now those seeds have sprung and it's time to pull the weeds, which have also sprung due to all the rain we've experienced. Lyda (in pink hat above) is asking for your help. She'll be there long before the scheduled time of 9 a.m. (closer to 7:30 a.m.), so drop by when you can and lend a hand.
And don't miss the CWE Flea tomorrow between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. at 449 N. Euclid (at Washington). There are as many vendors as the small parking lot can hold, including: Caprice Designs, Bohemian Babies, Uffda-Ta-Da, Ruby Francis, Envisage Vintage Jewelry, Cathy's Collectibles, Gilded Pineapple Antiques, Scavenger Vintage, A Tiny Moth, Jewelry by Michele Mohr, Zak Pottery, Twisted Vintage, MRJ Custom Embroidery, Parsimonia (Beth Styles with her vintage trailer), CWEnder Anna Cardot's to-die-for cookies (curry and killer chocolate), and more.
NOTE: There will not be a CWE Flea the first Saturday of July, which happens to be the 4th, because of Fair Saint Louis in Forest Park (street closures, etc). The next Flea will be August 1st.
Wait.... there's more: Also on Saturday, 25 families are holding a giant garage sale in the 5000-5400 blocks of Westminster and Washington Places between Kingshighway and Union from 8 a.m. to Noon.
P.S. If you were able to enjoy a free scoop of ice cream at Jeni's Grand Opening last night, congratulations on your perseverance. When I went by at 6:30 (doors opened at 7), the line was all the way up McPherson. The shop formally opens today. Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
The 45th Annual Central West End Association House Tour took place this past weekend on Pershing Place. Jim and I were house captains at one of the 7 houses on the tour, and we rounded up a cast of 27 stellar volunteers to help. They kept tour-goers entertained with details about the exterior and interior of the historic home embellishing my cliftnote version with gusto. Those who took the tour on Saturday morning were lucky to hear what well-known preservation historian Esley Hamilton had to say about the 1897 home's architecture and its contribution to the neighborhood, as he held forth in the homeowner's kitchen.
The photograph above shows the ticket booth on Pershing Place long before the start of the tour on Sunday.
Amy Howell Mittelstadt, right, president of the CWEA, is photographed with Operations Coordinator Amanda Dever, left. Umbrellas, which were de regueur for both Friday night's Preview Party and Saturday's daylong tour, were replaced by warm jackets on Sunday as a cold front moved into the area. The dreary weather didn't dampen the spirits of those who attended the tour, many of whom reported that they make the CWE House Tour part of their annual spring ritual. A few tour-goers, who had wandered over from The Chase Hotel, felt lucky to have stumbled upon the event.
At the end of the tour on Sunday I was finally able to take a few photographs of the Fathmans' beautiful garden, above. They created beds filled with herbs, vegetables and flowers, where there had once been asphalt. Bird feeders are placed in every available spot throughout the large backyard.
Another section of the yard contains a Japanese garden designed by landscape architect Edith Mason 50 years ago. The evergreen garden provides year 'round beauty from the family's breakfast room.
It takes much more than a village - many of the 250 + volunteers were from the neighborhood, and many from other parts of St. Louis - to pull off an event of this magnitude. First and foremost that includes the homeowners, who very generously opened their doors to the public, and to their immediate neighbors who put up with increased foot traffic and living in a goldfish bowl for several days.
Many thanks to the tireless efforts of CWEA President Amy Mittelstadt, Co-Chair Frances Thompson, Committee Member Katie O'Connor, the CWEA Board, the ever-cheerful Operations Coordinator Amanda Dever, all the house captains and volunteers for their efforts in making this event a success. Thanks also to Derek Gamlin, proprietor of Gamlin Whiskey House and his crew, who did a fabulous job supplying Preview Party guests with delicious appetizers and "woo woo" cocktails.
Be sure to support the Central West End Association by becoming a member (here). The monetary commitment is equal to 4 or 5 morning lattes (membership starts at $25 - larger donations are encouraged). Your support helps preserve the history and historic standards of this great neighborhood. The House Tour is just one of many events the organization sponsors to draw attention to the neighborhood throughout the year.
CWEA, 4814 Washington Avenue, Suite 302, (314) 367-2220.
One of the stops on the 45th Annual Central West End Association House Tour on Pershing Place this weekend is Terri Liberman and Martin Schweig's stunning backyard garden shown above and featured on a post here. The garden is one of several on the tour, including a Japanese garden at 4967 Pershing Place designed by landscape architect Edith Mason.
In the most recent issue of the West End Word, Managing Editor Fran Mannino wrote an extensive article (here) featuring one of 7 houses on the tour, the stately Vossmeyer/Sandberg home at 4554 Pershing Place.
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't see someone taking a photo of a historic home in the neighborhood. (The Central West End became a historic district in 1974.) Most of us who walk by these beautiful homes every day may take them for granted, but are still curious about what's inside. Now here's your chance.
The CWEA House Tour is the organization's most important fundraiser of the year. The event furthers the CWEA's work preserving the history and historic standards of the neighborhood (read this for an example). The event takes endless hours of coordination by the CWEA board, led by president Amy Howell Mittelstadt, with assistance from operations coordinator Amanda Dever. None of this would be possible without the generosity of the homeowners, who have been working for months to get their houses in shape. Finally, a gazillion volunteers have been lined up to staff the houses and welcome tents at Pershing and Euclid Avenues.
Tickets for the Preview Party, which takes place tomorrow, Friday, May 29, from 6 to 9 p.m., are $75. They include an advance look at the houses on the tour, as well as drinks and copious appetizers provided by Gamlin Whiskey House. Tickets for Saturday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Sunday (12 to 4 p.m.) are $22 in advance (tickets are also available at Left Bank Books and Pulaski Bank branches), $25 the day of the tour. Everyone should be able to finish the tour in a day, with time left to explore the rest of the neighborhood.
For frequently asked questions and parking instructions, look here.
On View at CWE Galleries Paintings by Metra Mitchell at Houska Gallery, 4728 McPherson; "Jefferson, NY" at Philip Slein Gallery, 4735 McPherson; "Into the Woods," Duane Reed Gallery, 4729 McPherson; Hideki Seo Concept Drawings, Projects + Gallery, 4733 McPherson; "Women in the Atrium," Atrium Gallery, 4814 Washington, "Battle of the Board," at World Chess Hall of Fame, 4652 Maryland.
Events of interest at CAM in July July 14, Feast Your Eyes with chef Ben Poremba, July 15 & 16, Create your own animated short, click link for details, 3750 Washington.