Gardening Over Time

“Lawn is boring,” the gardening book said. “Why fill your garden with boring lawn when there are so many other things you can plant instead?”
It was 1999 when I read those words and believed them. I was in the middle of my year of peace after a tumultuous five years of life upheaval. It was a year when all my creative energies were split between my two young children and the plants in my garden. I dreamed of the day when the little sticks of wisteria would cover the back wall and bloom in the spring. I dug up grass along all fences and created garden beds. I planned to have strawberries and an abundance of flowers. A large section of lawn was dug under to become a new vegetable garden. A section of lawn around the corner of the house became my compost heap, piled high with lawn clippings and other plant detritus. I had a clear vision for what my yard and gardens would become. In my mind I saw blooming flowers, climbing vines, and some lawn in between to provide play space and visual distance. It would be a place of beauty.

Last week I raked out the four-years-overgrown vegetable garden. It was so thick with dead stalks and new growth that multiple passes with the weed whacker were necessary. My metal rake dug out mats of buried weeds and garbage. The pile filled two black trash bags when I was done. Once I was sure that nothing dangerous remained, I ran over the whole thing with our mower. When the weather cools, we’ll throw down some grass seed. That vegetable garden I dug out a decade ago is destined to become lawn again. So are some of the garden beds and the former compost pile. We learned to our chagrin that a compost pile next to the house attracts pests who then want to enter the house. I am now working as hard to put lawn back as I once worked to reduce it. Lawn may be boring, but it is easy to maintain and still attractive. I’ve discovered that a well-kept garden brings me more joy than a disheveled one, no matter what the plants in it may be. I’m trying to bring the required garden maintenance down to match my available time.

Those little wisteria sticks have done a beautiful job of covering the back wall. They grew and twined, cracking the lattice right off of the cinder blocks. In the spring they bloom. In the summer everything is shaded by a canopy of trees which Howard and I planted with our own hands. The scraggly oak remains scraggly and we’re finally admitting it will never thrive, but the others are all marvelous. This summer I am reaping the consequences of yard decisions made a decade ago. On the whole there is more good than bad. A decade from now perhaps I’ll once again be digging up a patch of lawn to plant more garden. Its all good.