Archive for April 12th, 2008

I don’t really believe in lawns. They seem fine in the abstract, for instance, if they’re part of the grounds of your regal British estate, or if you’ve got children — I highly recommend lawns for picnicking and frolicking, too. But for my own property, I’d like some meadowy sections for butterflies and grassland critters to inhabit, and then some wooded areas, and some areas set aside for flowers, vegetables, interesting rocks….

Grass, just for the sake of grass [or for the sake of the neighbors who will think you’re a bit of a wacko for not playing along with the whole over-fertilize, over-water, and then go mad trying to keep each and every blessed blade at exactly 2 inches for 8 months out of the year]…. no, no thank you.

At the previous Chez Rethoryke, the grounds were mostly woodland, with just a few grassy swards that could easily be managed with a reel-mower. Sometimes, the weather in July and August would conspire to require only two mowings per season. Splendid! Perfect!

Ah well. Some of the transplanted spring ephemerals are putting on little memorial shows here at Elsinore, and I’m hopeful that people who took other specimens to their gardens last year are getting to enjoy some of this beauty on a smaller scale.

But right now, I’ve got a 90 x 125′ lot, and most of that isn’t covered by house or driveway, as you can see from this view, which stretches from the northwest corner to about the 2/3rds point of the property width. Last year, one of our neighbors gave us an old electric mower simply because she was tired of watching the grass get taller and taller each week. I’d say it was up to my thighs in some sections, and when the wind came sweeping through, it really did have some lovely swirly-swaying texture to it. Truly was sickle-worthy by the time we got around to mowing. [Fortunately, this neighborhood is liberal enough that using a sickle wouldn’t have been as threatening as it might have seemed in redder portions of the state.]

It was a grand summer project to carve out small islands in this sea of green, turn up the soil, discover bits of broken drainage pipes and layers of quartz pebbles, work in peat moss and LeafGro…. and then in went new plants: some from the old house, some from local garden centers, many from Bluestone Perennials.

There I’d be, pitchfork, shovel and trowel at the ready, and the good deizens of Elsinore would pause as they walked up or down the block, complimenting me for “doing something with the garden”. One of them explained that she had actually created an elaborate plan for the garden, which was supposed to be left for the new owner, in a kitchen cupboard. [No, it wasn’t] She further explained that she had picked out the oak tree and planted it, over there in the corner. [Did I really want an oak there? No. Do I feel sufficiently rotten about killing a perfectly good native tree to satisfy my own aesthetic that it will probably stay? Yes.]

But back to the lawn — when we finally started mowing last year, I mowed great asterisks, triangles, diagonals… Local property codes could insist that the mowing occurred, but not how we went about it. [Several neighbors stopped by to insist they were not the ones invoking the property codes. I’m inclined to believe them.]. Today I did some curved paths between the garden islands, and a few broad rectangles to save my Beloved from having to deal with the Far Corner, where the ground is really uneven. [The Far Corner, visible on the lefthand side of the lawn photo, is slated to get a Yellow-wood tree and a group of baby rhodies in the fall [scions of some of the lovely specimens I had to leave behind — thank you VanVeen Nursery!

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