First take a gander at the front yard of garden writer/popular speaker/urban horticulturist Felder Rushing – surely a regional landmark in Jackson, Mississippi. There are 450 different species of plants and lots of “yard art”. There’s no turfgrass at all, but lots of “people places.” The photo above is the view from the street and below is the view from in Felder’s home looking out toward the street. [Sorry, photos lost in a website move.]
I heard Felder speak at Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden recently and took furious notes about his gardening style and philosophy. Some highlights:
- We’re a nation not of gardeners but of lawn-mowers…and that’s work, not fun. He learned back in the ’70s to “Just say no to grass.” (Felder, really?) Though he did concede that a little bit of turf can make you feel like you’ve “got a grip”, which is the feeling his wife gets from making the bed every morning.
- He designed his front yard to look good from the house, not from the street – because he doesn’t care how it looks to his neighbors.
- He edges his garden not with “monkey grass” but with a little train that can carry two beers and some ice.
- He scoffs at soil tests. After asking the audience “Who’s actually tested their soil?” and getting an underwhelming response, he declared that “People aren’t buying this stuff we’re telling them.”
- As an example of a good-looking, low-maintenance landscape, one with color and texture all year, he shocked us the sight of a McDonald somewhere in America, looking as good as promised..
- He’s pro-dandelions. “Don’t call ChemLawn!” If you have weeds in the lawn just plant daffodils around them and call them companions.
- Gardens should have accents. His garden holds 10 bottle trees and one “rubber tree” – a big stack of tires, which he adorns for Christmas.
- He loves ponds and the frogs and dragonflies they attract.
- And he looooves outdoor fires, declaring them to be at least as interesting to watch as “people arguing and blowing themselves up on TV.” No argument there – and way more relaxing.