Spring is in the air. A warm front is finally blowing in. After weeks of below normal temperatures, today promises to be a sixty degree day. Daffodils bob about in the breeze. The azaleas are heavy with swelling buds. And the rosemary’s deep blue blooms against their pine green stems call to the honey bees venturing from their winter hive. As life reaches for the warming sun after a long winter’s nap, I make my to do list for the garden. The one chore I don’t have to think about is feeding and eventually mowing a lawn. By design, there’s no greening lawn here.
Wherever we lived, whatever the climate, new home, old home, I created a garden. Where there was grass lawn, I dug it up, making berms and beds in which to plant all kinds of greenery and flowering plants, leaving enough lawn to provide paths and play areas. Where I had a clean palette of bare earth, I made pathways of stone to meander among the trees and shrubs, flowers, herbs and vegetables. Gardens awakened my senses and soothed my work weary soul making a house a home and an otherwise plain landscape an oasis after a hard day’s work. While most people plant a grass lawn, I opted for less of the most expensive landscape. Sometimes, there was a front lawn; sometimes there was no lawn. That’s the case with our current home. Oh, we have a meadow, part of which now supports grape vines, blueberry bushes and blackberry canes. There’s some soysia grass planted between huge expanses of flagstone to form our patio. But the green lawn is not to be found.
Nine raised beds, three of them fenced against marauding deer and rabbits, make up the vegetable garden. There’s plenty of room to grow enough for a family of four. So with just two of us in this household, the overflow goes to my in-laws and daughter’s family. My youngest grandson at three years old loves to seed and water, pick and fill a bag with carrots and cabbage, tomatoes and basil, onions and garlic. Whatever the bounty, he proudly takes it to his Mom along with sweet bouquets of roses or huge armloads of sunflowers and his pants pockets full of herbs. His favorite is Rosemary. In winter, his bag may also include treasured rocks, pinecones and leaves but the impact is clear. He has connected with the Earth and all the gifts it provides. Gardens will do that.
Although we have plenty of room for a large garden now, even when we lived in an apartment, there were pots of tomatoes and herbs on the patio luring buzzing bees to happily pollinate our small crop. And the pleasure of pulling a sun ripened tomato from the vine for a dinner salad cannot be matched with buying a greenhouse grown, tasteless specimen from the store. Whether you have a big yard or a small space, this spring make room for a few food plants or some fresh herbs or flowers or all the above. Forget the lawn. Make a real connection with the Earth this summer even if it’s only for one juicy tomato plucked from your own vine.