Connect // Digging in at Veras Garden

WHITTIER — If you stroll or bike past Vera’s Garden  on the Midtown Greenway, you’d think an army of folks work to maintain it. It’s overflowing with ornamental trees, shrubs and a beautiful array of flowers.

Just two volunteers, Donovan Harmel and Tom Evers, however, are largely responsible for upkeep of this community garden on the edge of the Murals of LynLake condos on Lyndale.

The garden was reduced in size by about half when construction on the condos started two years ago. Harmel and Evers had to move hundreds of plants.

“It was heartbreaking,” said Evers, who mentioned they almost gave up on the garden at one point. “It’s finally nice now. It’s not the garden it used to be, but it is still beautiful.”

Evers said he’s worried that some people don’t know that Vera’s Garden is a public place, open to anyone. Since it’s so close to the condo development some people get confused and think it’s part of the development.

He’d like to put up a sign to make sure people understand that it’s a community garden.

The idea for Vera’s Garden came about when patrons of Vera’s Café, which is now closed, started brainstorming uses for their garden thinnings. Soon, the Vera’s Garden Club was formed and the ball got rolling on plans for the community garden. Planting kicked off in 2002. Since then, several people in the community have donated plants and pitched in on gardening work.

Evers works in the garden three to four days a week, on average. It’s more satisfying than spending time in his garden at home, he said.

Thousands of folks bike or walk pass them on the Greenway while they’re gardening. Many stop to chat, ask questions or compliment them on their efforts.

“I can garden in my backyard all I want and no one is going to be cheering me on,” he said.

Get involved:
Harmel and Evers could use a hand on a variety of projects for folks with any level of gardening experience. They are also looking for plant donations, particularly native ferns and native woodland flowers. If you’re interested in helping out, call Harmel at 827-5163. Visit for more information.