From the country to the city

Courtney Eshleman’s Show Us Your Bloom’s winning urban garden

Courtney Eshleman stands in her garden. TOM BECK / STAR PHOTO

By Tom Beck

Courtney Eshleman got it from her mom.

“My mom has massive gardens,” Eshleman said. “They’re beautiful. She’s really into it. She knows all the Latin names for everything.”

The Star interviewed Eshleman in the backyard of her Port Richmond home, where she’s growing dill, swiss chard, two types of basil, two types of rosemary, two types of oregano, two types of chamomile, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, black cherry tomatoes, thyme, eucalyptus, leeks, poblano peppers, jalapeno peppers, honeysuckle and more.

“We have flowers, and herbs and vegetables,” she said. “A little bit of everything.”

Eshleman is one of two winners of Greensgrow’s Show Us Your Blooms contest, a contest to see who can grow the best garden in the River Wards. Eshleman, who grew up in Lancaster County, always had a garden growing up, so she figured she wouldn’t stop the tradition just because she moved into a big city.

“I really love living in the city, but I also crave a little green, so if you have the space to do it then it’s easy,” she said. “A lot of this stuff is so easy to grow.”

Eshleman moved into the city 10 years ago to attend Drexel University. She’s been here ever since.

When it comes to technique, Eshleman is pretty bare bones. She doesn’t use pesticides or fertilizers.

“I just water things and give them good drainage and hope for the best,” she said.

Eshleman’s gardening is aided by a rain barrel she got for free from the city. She uses it to water anything she won’t be eating, “because it literally is the water that drains off your roof,” she said.

She moved into her current house in April 2016 and started her garden that spring.

“Maybe a few of those things are still here,” she said, “but a lot of the food stuff for this year, we started planting in March inside then we just brought them out.”

Although Eshleman seems like she’s pretty savvy, she credits her mother and Google for helping her keep her urban garden healthy.

“I don’t know a lot,” she said. “I just find the answers.”