Farm Diary – The Ornamental Garden

Tulip in our backyard

There are so many ornamental gardening blogs out there. I love reading them all. I love ornamentals – Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, Grasses, Bulbs. I really do. They are fascinating and beautiful to look at. Rich colors, odd flowers, beautiful textures. Ornamentals give the landscape a sense of wonderment. I work with them day in and day out as a landscape designer. Yes, I have my favorites, that’s for sure.

But I’m the mechanic with the broken down car. We barely have an ornamental garden at our house. Just a few plants around our back patio. Even our front yard is currently 90% mulch with just a few plants that we finally just put in this Spring.

Will it get better? Probably not. Well, not in the usual way. Our focus right now is food. I feel this pang of guilt when I plant something that isn’t edible or usable in some way at our house. Why I don’t feel this when planning clients’ landscapes is beyond me. When working the emphasis is always on NON-fruiting, NON-edible plants. They have a tendency to be messy and people just don’t like them or see a need for useful plants. Maybe I’m overcompensating with my own yard then? Maybe I’m just tired of the status quo? Or maybe I’m just a rebel?

Dead crabgrass’d front yard

Our plan for our front yard is to only use plants that can feed us or provide us with some kind of product. We have a large front yard and I wanted to do more vegetables out there but Tom wasn’t too keen on the idea. So we’re compromising. When we moved in it was just grass – well mostly crabgrass. Blech! It was winter when everything is green. So when the rains dried up we started watering it. No matter how much water we used, by summer it was all dead. So we ripped it out – well Tom ripped it out. It started with him just digging out the clumps of crabgrass and ended up turning into a giant pile of debris in our driveway. Eventually we laid a thick layer of mulch over it to keep down the weeds. Now we’re slowly adding edible plants to it. But it’s far from done as we only have two small trees and about 8 shrubs. Definitely not enough for this size of yard. So stay tuned for more posts about our front yard landscape progress. I’m sure there will be more.

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