Old creosote soaked logs edged the boarders, and the owners annually fought the lawn vs. moss battle typical in the Pacific Northwest. The owners dutifully mowed, dug out the dandelions, mowed some more, nagged about mowing, and played a couple of croquet games over fifteen years.
Spring brought a bit of color to the garden, but the gardener didn’t have a handle on sustaining colors throughout the growing seasons. As she visited great public gardens like The Buchart Gardens on Vancouver Island or the Minter Gardens in southern British Columbia, she yearned for great masses of color around the garden.
But there were problems with that approach, too. After all, that would mean shelling out lots of money for annuals every year to sustain color in the garden, something the gardener didn’t want to afford. The gardener also has a sneaking suspicion that there could be more to gardening than looking at pretty flowers alone.
Then, in the comfortable ship’s library on an Alaskan cruise in 2008, the gardener read this:
“Our highest shopping goal was to get our food from so close to home, we’d know the person who grew it. Often that turned out to be ourselves as we learned to produce what we needed, starting with dirt, seeds, and enough knowledge to muddle through. “
Reading this quote from Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”, the gardener and her husband became galvanized, realizing they didn’t need to keep mowing their lawn. Better, they could grow organic food, share it with their family and friends, and even combine flowers, vegetable and herbs in something called “sustainable landscaping.”
On either side, her neighbors joined her in giving up their lawns to garden organically and sustainably. They invested in over 50 yards of four way soil, but after the 2009 growing season, realized that they still needed to improve their soil. The neighbor bought chickens, and shared eggs and aged chicken manure. The gardener bought a deck composter from Envirocycle in 2010 and began loving earthworm and recycling compostable materials from her meals, garden and junk mail. She researched seed companies, companion planting, greenhouses. She wept and gnashed her teeth over slugs, rain and deer, and swooned with delight as she saw bees flocking to her garden by the hundreds. Her family and friends ate amazingly flavorful tomatoes, lettuce, summer, winter squash. She proudly donated excess vegetables in the local food bank, and met amazing gardeners at local seed swaps.
On July 4th, 2012, this gardener celebrates her independence as well as her nation’s. From her perspective, freedom from that long ago lawn has been worth all the work.