As I've been spending more time in my yard this year than ever before, I've discovered that (no surprise) I have my own prefered style for these outdoor spaces: wild but organized. This potager garden - or kitchen garden - designed by Leslie Bennett of Pine House Edible Gardens is just that. A perfect mix of raised beds full of abundant edibles and planted herbs and rose gardens to soothe the senses.
Created from an old tennis court that was no longer in use, this space now offers a guest house, chicken coop, outdoor dining areas, and paths to wander...
The directive from her clients was to create a healing garden. That meant spaces to grow organic produce and herbs, as well as florals that would engage the senses. Leslie is highly engaged in creating spaces like this, as she has her own side project, Black Sanctuary Gardens, which creates space for Black people to commune, converse, collaborate, heal, rest, and be nourished. I'll include more on that at the end of the post, for those who are interested in supporting!
The expansive space offers tiny moments for rest, play or entertaining. There's even a mini orchard off to one side of the dining area! The 16-trees include apple, pear, and apricot, underplanted with a mix of fruiting shrubs, berries, flowers and herbs.
Next to the guest house, a few lounge chairs invite guests to soak up the greenery. A bubbling fountain offers up a soothing soundtrack. And I can imagine the scent of all that lavender wafting into the air! Heaven. This space truly does engage all the senses!
The raised beds are planted with edible produce and herbs, while the chicken coop sits just at the end of the property. Leslie planted the garden to offer up a continuous bounty throughout the seasons - an art we are working on in our own garden!
Not only did I want to highlight this garden for the pure inspiration of it all, but after stumbling upon it, and discovering Pine House, I read this statement from owner Leslie Bennett:
"As a Black woman owned business and multi-racial, queer inclusive, majority female team, we stand for more than just healthy food and beautiful landscapes -- we support making gardens accessible to all through our equity pricing program and Black Sanctuary Gardens project.
We believe an edible garden can be a transformative space to grow and practice the better ways and world we want for ourselves and for our communities."
As I mentioned in previous posts, one of the ways in which I've been continuing my education and engagement in anti-racism work has been through land justice, gardening and farming. I'm still learning so much - and I hope to share more of that process with you eventually - but Leslie's commitment to creating these spaces for healing really resonated with me.
While you can read much more about the initiative on her website, here's a quick overview:
"Black Sanctuary Gardens is a series of aesthetic, edible and culturally grounded garden installations that serve as restorative spaces for the peace, self-care and inspiration of the African Diaspora in and around Oakland, CA.
Inspired in part by Alice Walker’s naming of the garden as a site for black women’s spirituality, creativity and artistic work, landscape designer Leslie Bennett and her team work to design, install and care for a series of low to no-cost Black Sanctuary Gardens for Black women and Black communities. Visual curation and photographic documentation of the women and communities in their garden spaces is a secondary, integral part of the project as we create imagery that more accurately and inclusively reflects the relationship of Black women and communities with their gardens."
Leslie and her team are currently fundraising for their Black Sanctuary Gardens, and I've just made a small donation myself in support!! I hope you'll consider doing the same, and I can't wait to see more of the spaces she creates for her clients and those receiving this gift.