A secret garden

A lone trumpet player is heard from the stage in the center of Dallas Bohrer’s backyard. The improvised melody floats through the yard, inviting the empty used car and van seats that surround the stage to be filled. Bohrer then picks up an acoustic guitar and begins looping riffs, adding layer after layer, to folksy melody.

Still lifes and abstract paintings flank the stage. In fact, the entire yard is adorned with lights, trinkets, paintings and just about anything else one might imagine, making the area a collaborative piece of art. Lights and bottles hang from the trees, and inspiring quotes from various writers are stapled to a telephone post.

This is the Blueberry Patch.

The Blueberry Patch is an artist retreat that hosts gatherings four times a month for like-minded individuals enthusiastic about all facets of art. Admission is free, though donations are accepted to help Bohrer and other artists continue their projects.

What fuels the Patch and all of its creative endeavors is the idea of sharing — a kindergarten principle that has seen a less-than-successful application in the adult world.

“Sharevival,” a term coined by Bohrer, provides the foundation for this message of sharing.

“To survive we need to share,” Bohrer said. “(We need to) take energy that’s already been spent and turn it into newfound energy.”

The idea of sharevival charges the creative process and helps explain the myriad of artifacts arranged in a creatively askew manner around the Patch.

So many items have been brought into the Patch, in fact, that it’s almost overwhelming for a first-timer. Yet, the overabundance of things filling the Patch has created some smaller, secluded areas away from the main action, allowing for a small group of friends to escape, chill out and enjoy each other’s company.

The idea of sharing encompasses more than recycling and the creative application of materials — it is also about giving. More specifically, the giving of one’s time and energy to help whomever is in need.

This is exemplified by the Patch Pals — individuals who volunteer on Saturdays to clean and decorate the yard. New art is always being created in or brought to the Patch, making the area an eternal work in progress.

“It’s always changing around here,” Jennifer Geddes said.

Geddes and her husband, Andy, have been helping Bohrer around the Patch for the last six years and are responsible for last year’s 30th anniversary T-shirt. Bohrer founded the Patch on July 7, 1977.

The Blueberry Patch has called Gulfport, Fla. home for the past 12 years and is located in the city’s art district.

When asked where he would like to see the Patch in the future, Bohrer said he hopes to see Blueberry Patches everywhere.  He aspires to spread his ideas and values all over the world, and to see the concept of “sharevival” reach as many as possible, with the goal of making the world a better place, he said.

Everyone is invited to the gatherings, which occur on the 1st, 7th, 11th and 22nd of each month. Each night features a different theme: The 1st is an open-mic night, the 7th is a sing-along, the 11th is an open jam session and on the 22nd, a featured band plays on the stage.

The Blueberry Patch is located at 4923 20th Avenue in Gulfport.