Never mow again.

>> Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Boy, those three words just painted the most wondrous image for me.

Imagine, a beautiful plant-filled ‘yard’ with meandering, shrub and flower-lined stone paths that lead from one welcome view to the next. If you saw the pictures of my backyard you would know I desperately need something to liven it up. It is just so bland and grass-filled right now. The edges are beginning to take shape, but the middle is where the real fun will be.

I have seen so many of everyone else’s yards in your blogs that are filled with plants and paths and I get to longing for my space to look as colorful as those.

I was reading the latest issue of Garden Gate magazine just today and found an article about this very topic. This particular article displays a yard in Colorado, same zone as mine, 5, but on the other side of the Rockies, and it looks like it would be idea for my place. Of course, being on this side of the mountains we tend to get a little drier so that would require a slight adjustment to my available plant options.

In trying to determine just where the paths should be laid out I am using my ‘daily’ trek to the bird feeders as a guide and they should be ‘indirect’ paths, of course.

And of course the path should continue on to the back shed, and then to the raspberry patch, and to the fruit trees lined up on the west side of the yard. and the raised vegetable beds at the very back.

I don’t think there’s a shortage of ideas as to why I ‘need’ a stone path. And then, there is the biggest reason of all. I don’t like to mow my lawn! And I would like the yard to be more…I don’t know, 3 dimensional! Not just north to south and east to west, I want it to go up too.

I envision lots of evergreen shrubs (in several shapes, sizes and shades of green), yarrow, daylilies, dianthus, salvia, lavender, roses, ornamental grasses. Take a breath. My mind is just swimming with possibilities. I’m mapping it out as I’m writing this trying to get as much down as I can.

My back yard covers just under 1,000 square feet so this is not going to happen by next year. I’ll have to figure out how to break it down into stages so it can slowly (and more affordably) get to where I want it.

I love planning and designing. This yard is the first where I have actually been able to put my plans into action. Because of my job, the one I retired from, I could never plan on staying in one place long enough to realize my designs. Finally, I’m going to get to see if those plans will actually come to fruition. So far my wife, family and neighbors like what they see. But it’s so small and new still. I am so exited.

Sometimes I think they all just tolerate my enthusiasm. But, I guess I do believe they like the changes so far.

Let’s see, this is going to require adjusting my irrigation plans. And if I can work out having some fragrant plants near the back deck…oh! See ya.


Vegetables are coming ‘out of the backyard’

I read this report from the Associated Press about vegetable gardens coming out of the backyard and into the front yard.

The reporters ‘spin’ on the story is how the vegetable part of the landscape ‘riles’ neighbors. But as I read the article, what I got out of it was that more and more people are growing their own food. Not that people are ‘upset’ about the looks of it.

Leigh Anders, of Viroqua, Wisconsin tore up about half of her yard and planted vegetables. She says her garden sends a message that anyone can grow at least some of their own food. She is an advocate of taking the responsibility of food supply away from agribusiness and back to our communities. Hooray for her. I absolutely agree.

I think we should have more community gardens. It gets more people out of their houses, away from their television sets, co-mingling with their neighbors, creating a healthy hobby and decreases the dependence on agribusiness.

Food that is shipped to us from who knows where, many times from other countries, raises the cost of that food in order to pay for the fuel and extra handling. When you take into account that food that has to travel so far before it gets to your table, well, lets just say that your local supermarkets claims that their food is ‘fresh’ is stretching it.

We, in the garden blogging universe, know why we grow vegetables, but why would someone grow vegetables in their front yard? I have seen some people’s backyards and it would take a lot of work and expense to get them into a reasonable condition in which to grow food. Unlike their front yards which most people tend to keep better care of because it is what the neighbors see. And frankly, I think that if food is going to be grown at all, it should be wherever space can be made for it.

Of course, you will always find people who ‘get behind’ on the gardening ‘duties’ and let the plot get ‘unruly’ looking. How many yards have you seen that ‘unruly’ look and didn’t see one vegetable growing in it? But that just happens, no big deal, right? It can be fixed. The trouble that some people have with veggies growing in their neighbors front yard is that the plants don’t look as ‘pretty’ as flowers or ‘well-manicured’ shrubs. To this I say ‘lighten up’. Maybe after you tasted some of your neighbors bounty you might want to grow your own vegetables. And just maybe, your own front yard is the only place you have to do it. Ask them why they grow vegetables, maybe it’s the first time you’ve ever spoken to your neighbors. Who knows, you might just strike up a friendship.

Many herb, vegetable and fruit plants look perfectly beautiful when well cared for and are just as legitimate as the traditional front yard fare.

The report referred to victory gardens that were grown during WWII, those were grown more out of necessity rather than trying to ‘save a buck’. Although those of us growing our own sometimes wonder if we really ‘save a buck’. But hey, just having grown our own is it’s own reward and it tastes so much better.

The reporter presented the article in a negative vein by saying the practice of growing vegetables in the front yard ‘riles’ the neighbors. I think the article should have been presented more positively by stating that more people are growing their own vegetables and then maybe, just maybe, if the reporter really thought it was necessary to say so, then the reporter could say something about how some people think it should stay in the backyard. But I don’t think that point has to be brought up.

We need to get more people involved in growing their own food, if not in their own yards then in community gardens. Mainly for the reasons I already mentioned. However, there is another important reason. Lets get our kids started down this path so they will learn the importance of eating healthier (and have a healthier appreciation of nature) and maybe they will stop frequenting these ‘fast-food’ heart-attack factories that pass themselves off as acceptable food sources.


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