So I've spent the better part of last week in bed with a cold. Which is not good. What is good is that I got to spend some time with a few books that I've really been meaning to get to for months.
Although I had a few novels ready to go, I found myself flicking through a gardening book that I got last Christmas. It was a gift from my mother who, tired of hinting to me time and time again that I really needed to tidy up the front yard, finally took a different approach and gifted me a book.
It's called Front Yard Gardens: Growing More Than Grass and is written by Liz Primeau. When I opened the gift I wasn't sure if it was a joke, or a genuine gift from the heart. I'm still not sure, but I have to say I really love the book!
My attempts at keeping order in the front yard have, to this point, consisted on wandering around with a weed eater, taking out anything that was above a certain level or didn't look like grass. The motor, which was always a bit feeble and spluttery, gave out at the end of last summer, leaving me to contemplate actual weeding. The real hands and knees, get dirty sort of weeding. Of course I didn't go there – after all, what on earth is RoundUp for?!
Anyway, this book has totally changed my way of looking at my ugly patch of dirt and weeds. In Front Yard Gardens, Liz gives concrete examples, and plenty of them. She illustrates how front lawns (and even some more along the lines of my own that can't honestly be called that) can be transformed into beautiful gardens that insects and butterflies flock to.
Liz Primeau talks about childhood memories from the fifties that revolve around neighbors' well-tended lush green lawns. I think this has been my problem too – feeling as though I had to create just this, and then giving up before I even started as the idea just didn't excite me!
Primeau challenges this almost universally held belief that areas in front of the house should be mainly lawn, and a well tended one at that, with an optional border of flowers and/or shrubs. For a bit of variety, and central garden bed is acceptable. Realizing that it didn't have to be like this was a such a relief. I'd been approaching it all wrong!
While there's a fine line between a natural garden and a wild meadow, Primeau seems to be able to deliver the former while keeping the good components of the latter. She talks about creating space that is pleasing to the eye, attractive to flying creatures and as low or high maintenance as you want to make it.
Anyway, I'm full of inspiration and energy for transforming my front 'lawn' into an amazing front garden. I have ideas and scribbled diagrams, a long list of flowers and shrubs and and even longer list of gardening tools.
While I'm confident that even I can pull this off, if the whole project does fall in a heap, I'll resuming my old approach and be on the lookout for a new way of taming my front yard. A more powerful weed eater!