Healing Gardens Offer Solace

Kristen Smeal The Art in the West End Healing Gardens complements its relaxing park-like feel.

Healing Gardens Offer Solace

Nestled in the vibrant Arts District of the West End of Alameda is a quaint, quiet garden called the Healing Garden. The Healing Garden is on the corner of Webster and Taylor streets and is part of a neighborhood enrichment project by the West End Arts District (WEAD).

A waist-high fence and mature trees surround the former parking lot-turned garden, alfresco dining area, and music and performance space. It’s surprisingly serene for being alongside the main thoroughfare of the West End and has a relaxing park-like feel.

Over the past year, the garden has grown from a few plants to garden patches around the entire periphery. Lucky bamboo and other plants have been recently planted and nurtured. Succulents and native plants, donated and tended by dedicated volunteers, surround the lot and are enjoyed by the entire community.

West End Arts District board member Michael Townehas made a special investment in the Healing Garden, as it’s right in his own neighborhood. Townehas was an initial visionary for this project and has seen it evolve out of love for the community.

Many in the neighborhood found solace amidst the pandemic and social upheavals of the past year by channeling their energy into artistic expression and community engagement.

Art, music and gardening are consistent themes in aiding a community through trauma, along with bringing neighbors together in a way pre-pandemic times may not have.

By definition, a garden is any space set aside for the cultivation, display and enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature. The Healing Garden is a place in the community to cultivate relationships with neighbors, to take in the display of artwork, music and plants, and to heal.

The property is privately owned and leased by West End Arts District through the end of November. The vibrancy and togetherness of WEAD has brought to the community is representative of the resilient community of Alameda.

With help of the community, an extension of the lease may be possible. Visit www.westendartsdistrict.org to donate and keep the Healing Garden alive.

Kristen Smeal volunteers and serves on the Board of Alameda Backyard Growers. She is also a Master Gardener and Garden Science teacher at St. Philip Neri School.