Upham's Corner Online

Trees & Gardens - An Upham's Corner Photo Tour 2011

Alex Galan - Best Garden 2011

Table of Contents Sumner 51 - Main Article
Photos 1 Photos 2
Note from Alex
Posted: July 23, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

Alex GalanAnd the winner is . . .

Meet Alex Galan, Master Gardener.  Originally from the Northwest, Alex has been living in Upham's Corner for almost four years in a very new three-story condominium complex at 51 Sumner Street.  Located at the corner of Sumner and Annabel Streets, the spacious yard is surrounded by a 4 foot retaining wall which provides additional opportunities for high quality landscaping.

Last year Upham's Corner News identified 51 Sumner St. as one of the top decorated yards in all of Upham's Corner but we never had the chance to meet Alex.  What a remarkable change in 2011.  We have to say that last year's gardening efforts pale in comparison to what Alex has accomplished this year. 

Yes, there plenty of other beautiful gardens in Upham's Corner, but Alex's dedication, knowledge and desire to share with the community mark his efforts as extraordinary.

Alex invites you to meet him, tour his garden and share his love of gardening.
Email:  boivnus1@yahoo.com
Phone:  617-733-2981

Update:  Read note from Alex - He placed second in the Mayor's Garden Contest for 2011

I love gardening.  I've been doing it since I was a kid. As a youngster doing gardening, I got to know the plants by working with them, learning their common names. 

I take such pleasure from being able to identify a plant by its description. If you tell me the shape of the leaf or the shape of the flower - maybe its color  - then most of the time I can tell you the common name of the plant you are describing. In school I studied art and biology which really helped me in my understanding of plants.

In Seattle I was working in a garden center.  What people know and use when they ask you for assistance is the common plant name. Most people do not know the botanical names of flowers, myself included.  It's not an uncommon experience to feel overwhelmed when you hear a technical plant name.

I actually grow a lot of plants from seeds so I do keep track of them often times by their botanical names.  I have a flip book of photos  that constitutes my library of plants and flowers.  I renew it every year because every year I do something different.
Alex shared his frustration and sadness over the number of times people have stolen plants from his yard.  We're not talking flowers plucked in full bloom.  We're talking entire plants dug up from his yard.

It really hits me hard.  This is my garden.  I am out here every single day. I get up at four o'clock in the morning.  And I'm outside watering at 4:30 are 5:00 am.  I love working in my garden.

I'll get something that's just finally blooming.  It's taking off and look forward to enjoying it.  The next day it's gone.  I have seen people walk off with my plants.  On the one hand I say to myself they really love the plants.  And I think to myself:  "Well they really want to put this in their yard.  Just let it slide."

But when it's once or twice a week, it tends to get difficult. It always seemed to be that people were taking plants from the front, so I had to install this really terrible invasive light in the front.  I don't like it but it seems to be helping. 

Maybe people think that when you have so many plants . . . I guess people have no sense of boundaries in their lives.  They just do anything they want.

This year I wanted to emphasize tropical plants to provide a lot of color.  I decided that this year I was going to go all out.   I also wanted to see how the neighbors would take to all of these plants.

You really can't miss the garden I've created.  You come around the corner and there it is. 

I've had people come up to me and say:  "Are those real?"  And I get to say to them:  "Hey, go ahead and touch it."

This is an ethnic community - all different cultures.  So many people have told me:  "The flowers remind me of my home."  When they see the tropical plants they say to me:  "We have these all over my country." And so I say to them: "Take a stroll."

But we can also think in terms of spreading the joy and encouraging more people to do this type of gardening.  It could make a really beautiful neighborhood here in Upham's Corner.  I've noticed that it seems to be rubbing off on some neighbors. 

I'm just so thrilled that people are doing that.  If I could have my way, I would do other people's properties as well. 

So you've heard of Helping Hands?  Well this would be "Helping Flowers at your Disposal." 
People really love it.

August 3, 2011
Morning Nancy!

Just letting you know that quite a few people have stopped by to look at the gardens according to my neighbors. Unfortunately I was not here when they stopped by. Oh well, I'm just glad they got to see it. All thanks to you!

I also wanted you to know that my gardens placed 2nd (small garden category) in the mayor's garden competition.

There will be an awards ceremony on Tuesday, August 23rd at 5:15 p.m. at The Public Garden (Arlington street & Commonwealth avenue gate). Mayor Menino, Parks Commissioner Antonia Pollak, official contest judges, sponsors, and fellow contest participants will be there. I hope you will be there as well. ;-)

I guess it will be televised. :-|

Anyhow, great fun! Alex

Below you will find a complete list of all (most) of the flowers in Alex's extensive garden.  If you are an avid gardener, try to find the flowers by their name in the photos that follow (two pages), send your comments to Upham's Corner News or to Alex and we'll make this article into a community garden.

Common Name
Botanical Name
Angels Trumpet
Brugmansia Datura
Autumn Joy
Sedum telephium

Bergenia cordifolia
Black-eyed Susan

Castor bean
Ricinus communis
Chameleon Plant
Houttuynia cordata
Coleus forskohlii

Cosmos bipinnatus
Dracaena marginata
Creeping jenny
Lysimachia nummularia
Croton Codiaeum variegatum pictum
Elephant ear
Elijah blue fesue
Festuca Glauca


Iceland Poppy
Papaver nudicaule
Japanese Sedge
Carex morrowii
Lantana camara
Lily Turf
Liriope spicata

Love lies bleeding
Amarantus caudatus
Tropaeolum majus
Orange Sensation
Pineapple lily
Potato Vine
Pruple leaved elder
Sambucus nigra
Red hot poker
Sago Palm
Metroxylon sagu
Yelllow bamboo
Phyllostachys aureosylcata

Zebra grass
Miscantthus zebrinus

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