University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture

Page View

Gustav Stickley (ed.) / The craftsman
Vol. XIV, Number 4 (July 1908)

Irwin, Elisabeth A.
The little gardens of the east side: how the poor cultivate window boxes,   pp. 404-406 PDF (1.0 MB)


Page 404


THE LITTLE GARDENS OF THE EAST SIDE:
HOW THE POOR CULTIVATE WINDOW
BOXES: BY ELISABETH A. IRWIN
             0 ONE can go from the tenement districts of the city
             in the spring into the fresh green open country with-
             out a mad desire to transplant a solid block of the hot
             seething city into the midst of the green fields or
             under the shading trees. For years this has been
             going on under the fitting name of Fresh Air Work,
             though it might as fittingly be termed green grass work.
Only recently, however, has the reversed process been undertaken,
the bringing of the mountain to Mahomet, the grass and flowers into
the very tenements, where those who for many reasons must stay
all the year can enjoy the spring, the summer, and even the winter,
in watching the miracles that ta e place in a little box of earth.
   Last spring the New York City Branch of the National Fruit and
Flower Guild placed five hundred gardens on the window-sills of
five hundred homes, and the story of how they flourished is a proof
of the care, affection and appreciation they received from the five
hundred gardeners.
   In the autumn only three of these little gardens had not actually
flourished and only one had died. Each box with its two geraniums,
two ivies and another vine takes with it instructions for proper care
and an opportunity to buy seeds for new flowers.
   It is interesting indeed to note the individuality that develops
when the planting season comes.  Sweet potato vines and peanuts
have been tried with some success by several Southern negro families,
while the Italians aim always for color effects. The German gardens
also flourish characteristically. That many of the original plants
are taken from the boxes to be transplanted to the cemetery and are
replaced by new slips tells its own story.
   When one window-box goes into a house from the Guild, it is
noticeable that soon after there appear in neighboring windows
home-made imitations which are of course the sincerest flattery.
Bureau drawers cut down and painted green are frequently adapted
to the purposes of agriculture, while families in which a handy man
presides over the home often display boxes in every way as well made
and presentable as those procured from the Guild.
   The window-boxes are not given away, but are sold merely for
a price which the various gardeners can afford to pay. While the
actual cost of a box is one dollar and twenty-five cents most of them
sell for twenty-five cents, varying from this to the actual cost. The
404


Go up to Top of Page