I see, out front, a ‘cottage garden,’ a riot of plants that looks charming from the drive and is the source of the herbal medicines I use as I become an herbalist in my own right. Perennials, self seeding annuals, shrubs, they have to be reined in and divided and multiplied with cuttings and allowed to creep as ground covers. This is organized chaos, or at least inventoried.
Along side, and in back of the house are the more ordered, organized food beds. These have to be planned, rotated, fostered. Greens and root vegetables and Butternut Squashes and Paste Tomatoes and even a little plot of Quinoa, to try. Beans and Cabbages and Rhubarb, Strawberries and Blueberries, and unusual things like Gooseberries and Horseradish. Food for me, my family, for bartering and offering. And I want to Plant a Row for the Hungry, and for my local food bank too.
And the garden shed! With its built in potting bench with Running Water! And windows! And racks for holding tools in convenient spots, and canvas bags for harvesting, and racks for lamps that I’ll start seeds under, and best of all, the Worm Bin. Every fall I’ll compost the leaves, the prunings, all that, make a pile and leave it to cook. But those little wormies will eat every day, since there will be extra Carrot tops and Pea shells from dinner, and bits pinched off the Tomatoes, and in general just scraps. Scraps of food I’ve nurtured onto my plate and into my health, that I can give back to that same dirt from whence the scraps came.
And the bird’s-eye view- this garden is convenient, extremely convenient to my Dream House. It’s out front, on the sides, and in the back. Lawn? Yeah, maybe a little, if someone else is mowing.
(I grew up with a ‘yard’ that was about 5 acres, and bordered by trees that were the beginning of the rest of our almost 80 acres total. “Convenient” to me means that I can see it, every day, from the doors and
From that front door it was 100 yards straight out to the trees, past the grape vines, the English Walnuts, the smoke house, and the apple trees. On your left side, it was probably that far down to the creek, with only the pool and septic field on either side of the driveway, and maybe half that or less up the hill to the trees on your right that marked the start of the climb “up the bush,” where we had blueberry bushes, 2 more English Walnuts, my herb garden in a stone-edged corner and asparagus right at the tree line.)
I have since lived in many, rented places. Easily the best lesson I’ve learned is that if I am to responsibly, consistently care for a garden, I need to see the garden. Behind the house I grew up in was our spring, and I was never allowed to put in water plants among the stones and moss that piled up at its curve. Maybe my mom was on to something, because we so rarely went back there, compared to out front.
That’s not to say I DID garden as a child. I know my parents had to all but force my sister and I to do any chores, especially outside with the heat and the sweat bees biting behind your knees when you squatted down and the gnats and the wasps and the FIVE ACRES of grass to cut, rake, pile, load in the lawn mower wagon and spread on or around the raised beds mom built from, I think, old barn lumber. I was not very accommodating or gracious, that I can remember.
But now! Now I want to see Artichokes mingling with Motherwort and Amaranth. An espaliered fruit tree, or three, there near the arbors that grow Schisandra and Grapes. Now I see what her vision must have been back then.
Yep, that’s my Dream Garden. I can't wait.