Saturday, April 30, 2016
My home this season: April 2016
Here is a little planting bed -- formerly the bottom pool of a water feature that was non-functional by the time we moved in to our house -- just outside our living room sliding door.
Almost everything in this bed is a Pacific Northwest native plant -- western meadow rue, fringecup, yellow violet, beach strawberry, columbine, TWO kinds of camas (I am inordinately proud of growing this plant!).
I don't think my husband is a huge fan of what I've done with this spot, and I admit it looks rather messy -- but that's precisely what I like about it. The way the wild plants have been allowed to grow, well, wild, and they've filled in the space with drifts and mounds of subtle flowers and delicate leaf shapes. (In fact, "what I've done with this spot" is not really accurate -- mostly, it's been the plants' doing.)
Why am I posting photos of my garden under the aegis of my monthly "what my home looks like these days" update? Well, to remind myself that our outdoor space is our home too. That's something I've been ignoring lately, to be honest. I've been frustrated by the fact that we've lived here for 11 years, and we've worked steadily on the yard every year, but it's STILL overrun with weeds and invasives, and we STILL don't have an overall landscape plan to guide us.
The truth is, our lot is substantially larger than I really want to take care of (a function of the outlying neighborhood where we could afford to buy a house). And at least one-third of it consists of rockery, slope, and parking strip that is inaccessible, difficult to maintain, and/or not really useful as a space for us to actually spend time in.
So I've just felt done with it all -- I don't want this, so I'm pretending I don't have to deal with it. It's too much work, and I don't have time.
And then I thought about something I read in one of Marie Kondo's books. (I know, I know -- go ahead and roll your eyes.) She says you have to take care of your home, even if you're not thrilled with the home itself, because your current home leads you to your next home. To be clear, we're not planning on moving anytime soon, so we're not actually looking for our next home. But something about that admittedly woo-woo formulation seemed useful to me in dealing with the ambivalence I've always felt about the house itself. (Basically, the way I put it is -- we bought in an extremely hot market, so I knew I would have to compromise on space, style, or location, but I was kind of bummed about having to compromise on all three.)
And a week or two ago it occurred to me -- ohhhhh, that all goes for the yard, too. I realized that lately I haven't been fair to our little patch of habitat. So I'm trying to re-engage. And while this little pool doesn't quite constitute an overall landscape plan, come to think of it, it's a glimpse of what I'd like to achieve.
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I quite like it! I need to do something with our yard too - overall it's a nice sort of woodland-y garden, but some things are getting overgrown and some areas need replanting. I'm not at all great at garden planning, but I'm trying to start with what's already there that I like and work from that. This year, since I've had very little luck with vegetable gardening (too much shade), I'm thinking of trying shiitake mushrooms - now that will be an experiment!ReplyDelete
Hey Kerry -- after a long hiatus I am just now turning back to this blog but I wanted to thank you for your comment. Your woodland-y garden sounds lovely. I agree that starting with what's there can be helpful -- I've just cottoned on to the idea of, instead of going out and getting plants to fill spaces, transferring a bit of what's doing well elsewhere in the yard. Good luck with your shiitake growing -- now there's a crop well worth growing yourself, given the expense of buying!Delete
I actually really like it --- I'm very fond of informal gardens, where there's simply one thing leading into the next, where the plants are doing the work themselves. In fact, this is precisely what I would like to see in our yard! We are in exactly the same boat as you (but are only 5 years in so far) and I feel EXACTLY the same way about our yard as you do about yours: it's too much to care for (Oh, what I would give for a "postage-sized" Dutch plot of land!), much of the space isn't really useful to us (the "this-is-the-worst-"lawn"-ever" area in the backyard is too sloped for soccer, much to the chagrin of our 11 year-old), the weeds are non-stop (which my husband valiantly tries to keep up with, chemical-free) ... and I would rather just pretend it didn't exist ...ReplyDelete
I do think Kondo is on to something with taking care of a house, even when one is ambivalent (or worse!) about it. (Even if I can't quite get behind the woo of it leading to another house.) Karen Kingston also addresses this in her clutter/feng shui book: taking care of things which belong to you, indoors and out, is simply good for your soul/psyche, whereas "letting things go" is not good for the soul/psyche. Joshua Becker (Becoming Minimalist) also addresses this when he says one should stage their home for selling, even though one isn't selling (ie. make those small repairs that niggle day-in and day-out, etc).
I so enjoyed this post, Sarah --- I hope you show us more of your yard! (Although I'll have to try really hard not to be envious of the lush PNW greenery --- our (ahem - 5!) tulips haven't yet opened up, and the leaves are only just now starting to open on trees and shrubs.)
Thanks, Marian. Yes, a postage-sized plot of land, that's exactly what I want. It must be in my DNA! Because that's about the size of yard one can keep thoroughly in order, and it's very distressing when one's yard isn't in order (even if the order is of a wild sort, if that makes any sense). #Dutchpeopleneuroses. I have to admit that I'm feeling better about my yard than I was when I wrote this post, now that a lot more is in bloom. I hope spring has come to your area too and is providing some distraction from the less-than-ideal parts of your yard.Delete
I like it very much. We've left a large part of our garden quite wild, although we've built a few strategically placed garden beds, put in a small pond, set in pathways over the years to give structure. So much has been done in the name of gardening that's not thoughtful enough about place. Take your time. As one who's soon leaving a garden I've built over the last 24 years, I envy you the slow planning, all the future gardens. . . Enjoy your camas, they're wonderful!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Frances, that's a good reminder that there's time to see what the space really wants and what really belongs there. I have so enjoyed seeing your pictures of your garden, it must be bittersweet to leave it! Although I must confess a twinge of envy at your next gardening situation (see above comment about tending a postage-sized plot).Delete
I saw this one weeks ago when you first posted, but couldn't comment for some reason, and came back looking this morning to see if you had anything new up and re-read and...dang, you're speaking right to my heart on this one. I am struggling with a house that feels like too much. A house that was more compromise than dream. (And I've tried really really hard to love it, but...I don't, much.) These words are helpful to me. I really appreciate you sharing them, and I'm glad they are here for me to (re)discover.ReplyDelete
Aw, thank you so much for your comment, Rita. I'm so glad to know that my words resonated with you and were helpful. And much as I wish you were living in a dream home, or at least a truly loved one, I'm sort of glad to know that others are in the same boat.Delete