By Dan Shulman
They say April showers bring May flowers. But this year, it seems April and May showers will be bringing June flowers in Boston.
Specifics aside, May 30 marked National Water a Flower Day, when gardeners are encouraged to give their plants love in the form of watering across America.
In Boston, the Fenway Gardens were scattered with city patrons on Tuesday morning. In the shadow of the Prudential Tower, several people of all ages tended to their plots in the Fens, dousing their plants with water. Water a Flower Day comes at a crucial junction in late spring when many gardeners are preparing their land for the balmy summer months ahead.
This May however, the chilly, soggy spring has made life for gardeners and plants a dismal one.
“The tomatoes aren’t doing too well,” said Greg Babunovic, a Harvard graduate student from New Jersey. “None of my plants are.
“Of course you never know what weather you’ll get in Boston.”
No one is sure how the tradition of National Water a Flower Day began. In the Fenway neighborhood, many remained unaware of its existence. However, owners of the plots at Fenway Gardens said they appreciate their plants every day.
In 1942, Fenway Gardens opened as Victory Gardens, providing a way to grow food during World War II. Jean Krasnow, a Jamaica Plain resident in her 70s, was not alive during the early days of the garden but has heard stories from family members and fellow gardeners.
“It’s neat to see how it’s evolved,” Krasnow said. “Over the past few years there have been some cool changes — Northeastern engineers have created a wheelchair garden, there’s an herb garden and even a teaching garden in the back plots.”
Krasnow, who was not aware of the horticultural holiday, has had a plot for two years now, after a relatively short three-year stay on a now lengthy waiting list.
“It’s a late life hobby,” Krasnow said as she installed chicken wire in an attempt to keep critters out.
She said she tends to her plot once a week, mostly to weed and water.
“When I got the plot it was all dirt and weeds,” she said. “I used to be an interior designer so I figured it would be a nice project for me.”
Krasnow’s plot includes two — and soon to be three — circles with herbs planted in them and a mulch path surrounding around the garden.
The plot next to hers is owned by a garden legend, a man simply known as Arthur. It features a brick pathway around several flower beds and a solitary green chair.
“He’s here every day,” Krasnow said. “Every morning bright and early he comes to check his garden and sit for a few hours.
“He’s put a lot of time into his plot and taught me everything I know.”
The garden doesn’t just provide a place for hobbyists to escape from the rigors of city life. Young adults such as Babunovic, also unaware of Tuesday’s holiday, have plots as a place to grow food and hang out quietly with friends.
“If it’s a nice day, we’ll drag the table out from under the peach tree and have a few friends over,” Babunovic said..
Babunovic came to the garden May 30 to check the plot that he and a friend have tended to for two years now. His plot features a self-designed apparatus made out of small wooden poles for supporting tomato plants.
The graduate student is not allowed to own the plot, however, as there is a strict rule in place requiring plot owners to be full-time Boston residents. So his friend from the city offered to share it with him. The duo’s plot is unique, as the peach tree in the middle is one of the tallest plants in the garden.
“You’re not allowed to have anything over four feet,” Babunovic said. “The tree was here when we got the plot and is grandfathered in.
“It might actually yield some fruit this year, which I’ve been told hasn’t happened in a while.”
As for his tomatoes, Babunovic hopes to turn things around this summer.
“I’m not as experienced so it’s partially my fault,” he said. “Hopefully they can grow because our friends are hoping for some fresh tomatoes this year, as am I.”
Boston residents looking to get involved will need to apply on the Fenway Victory Gardens website as well as attend a New Applicant Session and volunteer for three Community Participation Days. The cost for a standard 15’x25’ plot is $40.00 and $25.00 for seniors age 65 and older.