In 1996, when Ginny Ruffner moved into an old brick building in the heart of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, her new backyard looked like typical big city blight: overgrown crabgrass and weeds, trash, a brick wall.
“My view here was pretty urban, so I made my view. I augmented it, added to it,” said Ruffner.
Over the years, Ruffner has transformed this space into an urban oasis that is home to a wide variety of colors, textures and, of course, plants. The botanical matron of the garden is a 12 foot tall Tasmanian tree fern that Ruffner affectionately calls Cindy Loo Hoo.
As Ruffner was carving out this space and shaping it into her ideal refuge, she was also recovering from a terrible car crash that nearly took her life.
Doctors said she would be in a vegetatative state, forever. But, in the way that plants are persistent and determined to grow, Ruffner forged ahead and rebuilt her life.
“It put me in a coma for five weeks, a hospital for five months and a wheelchair for five years.”
Ruffner had to learn how to walk again and how to talk. Not only did Ruffner defy doctors’ predictions, but she emerged with her wit and humor fully intact and her drive to make art undiminished. She says her garden helped her recover.
“Just to be around beauty, wherever you find it, is helpful I think.”
In this story, we talk to Ginny Ruffner about the pleasure and inspiration she derives from this urban oasis.