Langley, on the south end of Whidbey Island, is such a charming little town....with spectacular water and mountain views, and historic buildings so graphic and simple they might have been drawn with a child's crayon. I remember when we were house-hunting here, our realtor commented that Langley would be Sausalito if it didn't face north!
Well, luckily it doesn't and isn't; and now Langley is busy transforming itself into a garden town where vegetables, fruit and flowers fill both public and private landscapes with food, bloom and fragrance.
Inspired by Pam Warhurst's TED talk on how the town of Todmorden in West Yorkshire became an "Incredible Edible" food-filled landscape, the Langley Main Street Association has launched a garden initiative.
We're starting with the gardens around Langley's City Hall (left), where volunteers had improved the plantings in recent years, but never had budget enough or a plan to pull it all together. We'll be installing work by year-round structure and interest, and planting food and flowers to attract visitors and enrich the lives of residents.
This summer, when the town is celebrating its Centennial, hanging baskets will overflow with cherry tomatoes, herbs, and round little lemon cucumbers as well as flowers. The plan is to include native plants, and ones that attract bees and birds. From blueberry hedging to raised beds that invite you to linger, pick and taste, the Langley Main Street Garden Initiative is about creating vibrant, lively gardens full of food and flowers for people and creatures alike. Stay tuned for the construction and planting of a Pollinator Pathway Promenade (hint: flowering vines and sweet alyssum are involved) and a bean teepee, among other elements.
I'll chronicle our progress here on the blog - please let me know if you have ideas for us, would like to share plants or experience, time or expertise. We plan to form partnerships with growers, seed companies, local designers and urban agriculturists. Of course we hope Langley becomes a case study of how plants and food can build community. The Whidbey Island Garden Tour has already joined with the Langley Main Street Association to kick off the initiative....take a look at where we're starting...and stay tuned...
Here's Tim Leonard of Heavy Metal Works contemplating the existing City Hall garden, which now is a motley collection of donated plants. Tim is one of the metal artist giving us a bid on work to provide height and structure in winter, and to support plants in summer...
Here's what we're starting with - window boxes and a never-hooked-up rain barrel. The pole apples will stay, and the decrepit wooden raised bed will be replaced by galvanized metal feed troughs.
Maybe the conifer, quickly outgrowing its space, should be replaced with winter-fragrant Azara microphylla, or a hedge of golden yew? City Hall is in a prominent location on 2nd street, next to the public library, across from the Post Office and Useless Bay Coffee Company, a popular gathering spot.
Committee members Cathy Rooks and Janet Ploof, discussing ideas for a new, vine-bedecked promenade along the side of City Hall.
Tim walking beneath an arbor we plan to link to the new promenade and arbor at the far end of the walkway with metal screening.