Breaking Ground in the Hell-strip
The Stiles Center is honored to have received funding from Denver Arts & Venues PS You Are Here program for gardens in the ‘hell-strip’ around the center. Join us as we establish no-water, stone crevice gardens that explore historical plant relationships held by African Americans. Through a series of themed Saturday Afternoon Teas, we invite community members, storytellers and makers to share seeds, knowledge & insights into the uses of plants, visions for future gardens & temporary art installations associated with PS You Are Here.
Featuring the life and work of Aunt Clara Brown
The first tea will focus on medicinal plants, featuring the life and work of Aunt Clara Brown. After becoming a free woman, Aunt Clara headed west to establish roots along the Front Range. Carrying extensive knowledge of plants used as food and medicine along the Underground Railroad, she learned about medicines native to the west through her Arapaho friend, Jenny Jones. Not only did she apply her wisdom to heal bodies, she also helped African Americans get a footing socially and economically as they arrived in the Rocky Mountains.
The patch of land we are working with laid fallow under three layers of weed cloth over the past several decades. Now that we’ve removed the synthetic material, we intend to restore life to the soil and cultivate a ‘living seed library’ to disperse seeds of plants that thrive with no added water in our Rocky Mountain Steppe ecology. During this tea, the garden will be a work-in-progress, where visitors can see first-hand how the stone functions to channel water into the ground to benefit deeply rooted native plants, as well as the layers that keep moisture in the ground through increasingly dry spells.