Eastside Garden Club
Charleston, South Carolina
Our neighborhood is the most diverse and among the poorest in Charleston, S.C. While the Eastside Garden Club has been around less than three years, we have been busy working with our community and city partners:
- Trees: The Eastside has fewer trees than any neighborhood in Charleston, not helpful in a city so prone to flooding. Working with the city’s Parks Department, we have helped plant more than 120 trees.
- Mary Watson Park: The neighborhood spent years trying to get the city to do something about this rundown pocket park at America and Amherst streets. The garden club, working with the Eastside Economic Development Corp. and the Parks Department, got it done in four months. The park was renamed for Mary Watson, a beloved resident who ran a corner store here for 50 years. We dedicated it in December 2019 with a ceremony including the mayor, the Watson family, and about 100 residents.
- Yard of the Month: This has become a popular award, and the diversity of the winners reflects the neighborhood. Because not everyone has a yard, we have had a Porch ‘o Month, a Church ‘o Month and a Veggie Patch ‘o Month. Each winner is announced in a neighborhood Facebook posting including a write-up and photo and get to display our iconic homemade Yard of Month sign.
- Churches: We have planted the grounds of several neighborhood churches, including St. John’s Chapel and Greater Beards Chapel. Funding for these projects came from Keep Charleston Beautiful. We have also planted next to Neighborhood House, a community center and soup kitchen for the homeless.
- The Woolfe Street Gardens: A series of 15 flower beds around the intersection of Woolfe, Amherst and Nassau streets. The flower beds are big and small, on public and private ways.
- The Hampstead Roses: Hampstead Mall is the oldest public green space in the city, and is in poor condition considering its history and importance to the community. We have been asking residents to sponsor a rose for $20 each. In a short period, we are up to 17 roses and growing fast.
- Long-term: The garden club is working with other groups and residents on an ambitious re-imaging of Hampstead Mall and Columbus Street, the neighborhood’s traditional Main Street. The first planting of the park in a generation is expected in the fall. Spoleto, the city’s signature arts festival, is coming to the park for the first time in the spring.
Written by Steve Bailey