Story by Mary Ellen Navas: The Gardenless Gardener.
Walking along the sloped curved path, inhaling the lavender on one side and fragrant mediterranean perennials on the other, I felt my shoulders drop as I exhaled… and then I heard it, the rhythmic, persistent trickle of water on my right just ahead, occasional buzzing around me, and soft sounds of leaves moving in the light breeze. Where had I gotten to? How could I just minutes ago have been in a traffic snarl on Grand Avenue? Was this still Oakland? I closed my eyes and listened carefully, becoming still and breathing in the fragrance around me. Only then could I faintly hear traffic sounds and the irregular schop-schop of someone pruning a shrub nearby.
I felt awakened by those moments. This was my introduction to the newly refurbished Sensory Garden, where I was to meet Susan Veit, one of the community activists responsible for bringing this treasure back to life. Originally opened in the 1970s as the Fragrance and Herb Garden, the intention was to make this corner of Lakeside Park more accessible to visually impaired people. Along with the better known Bonsai and Japanese Gardens, it is but one of ten distinct areas that now constitute the Demonstration Gardens that are adjacent to Lakeside Garden Center. […]