To catch new readers up, last fall I gleefully removed my front lawn, prepped the soil, and, in a radical departure for me, planted vegetables. I just could no longer resist the passionate entreaties of Michele Owens and Ed Bruske, among others (Kingsolver, anyone?). Plus, I was SO sick of the lawn.
So I harvested what greens weren’t spoiled by the 90+ degree spell we experienced in April, ate a couple of homegrown salads, and wondered: Now what? There isn’t enough sun here for the summer crops most kitchen gardeners plant in late spring and I quickly realized that my front yard – that most visible of spaces – would look like crap for most of the year, and I suddenly lost heart.
I’m a bit shamey-faced as I report this failure to convert to food-growing, but at least I never considered replanting the lawn. Not even to try one of the new-and-exciting eco-friendly types of turfgrasses. No way. Coz not having to use a lawnmower is too wonderful, and anyway, I really like the old Williamsburg look of the brick path bisecting the perfect oval of space.
So I unceremoniously ripped out the edibles and replaced them with groundcover-type ornamentals, like thymes, sedums, creeping Jenny and mazus, all moved from elsewhere on my property. Next I bought some iceplant, sage, and prostrate rosemary for the dry side of the garden, and the wetter side is home to Wave petunias, a castor bean vine (proving to be too determined to grow vertically for the prostrate look I had planned for it), and pulmonaria at the shadiest spot. I dearly wanted some dark purple sweet potato vine but couldn’t find any this year. Y’all have any plant suggestions?
NAME THAT GARDEN
And what do you call an anti-lawn garden that resembles an old kitchen garden, but is purely ornamental? The plants are arranged free-form through the perfect geometry, so a knot garden it’s definitely not.
Then would you go for a calm, rest-the-eye look to perform the function once performed by the lawn, or totally tart it up? And there’s the question of vertical structure and don’t even think about suggesting I put a Washington Monument-shaped thing at the exact center of all this because it’ll only block my paths, and in a royally annoying way. (Paths matter!)
Finally, to all the vegetable gardeners, cooks and lovers of all things organic and local among our readers: I’m sorry, really. But I’ve gotta tell ya, discovering new plants to grow in new and more beautiful ways on this little patch of ground is a thrill. In the words of Michele, it’s my mad love.