Yes, I Do Judge Your Yard

Okay, so yes, I do walk the neighborhood, judging the yards. It appears that I’m walking the dog, and truly, Aggie does like her walks, but really? I’m looking for the gardening news.



Aggie’s immediate reaction to the word “walk.”

In today’s gardening news, which included the daily deluge, the couple (two elderly women who have the most adorable house) that I have hereto-fro given the best neighborhood yard award too, blew it. I am so upset. They planted portulaca (Portulaca grandiflora) in the urns that adorn either side of their sidewalk leading up to their perfectly trimmed English style cottage. I was stunned, needless to say. I had just mentioned them to the local architect, whose opinion I sometimes solicit in my inspection of the neighborhood. (We walk at the same time every morning and evening. I’ve corrupted him with my assessments.)

How could they? Portulaca is all, well, plain Jane in the gardening world. Succulent, yes, and they’re trendy, but portulaca is like yesterday’s news, not to mention it rarely blooms nicely–well, maybe in Brazil. It does not belong in this yard, which is clipped boxwoods (so dang cute), hydrangeas, blue mopheads (goes perfect with the white house and black shutters), a small fig tree, guessing Chicago Hardy (very nice touch), Rozanne geranium (a little sick of her but the color is good with the house and it is all season bloom), a small, but extremely tasteful perennial bed (restraining itself from the bloom, bloom, bloom mentality)  near the very healthy hemlock hedge (assuming they treat it systemically and annually) one slightly misplaced Japanese Cedar, which had me worried about the whole place, but in a last second transplant, they moved it to a corner of the yard where it now resides perfectly, and won my heart–until today.

I blame their next door neighbors who have so many children I have simply stopped counting. Those countless children and screaming perennials that fill every corner of the yard, I fear, have influenced them in the worst way. If I didn’t feel sorry for the poor mother of all those redheaded demons, I’d consider making a few suggestions, but she has her hands full. All boys, all out of control. When her husband brought home a puppy, I took her up the street for coffee. She just sobbed and sobbed. I patted her hand and mentioned that I hadn’t married well either. I understood.

At any rate, their yard is overrun with all manner of perennials, and all of it blooming at once–as in now. There is no design, no thought for the garden, just plants everywhere and color screaming from every corner. I literally have to restrain myself when I walk by. I want to start rearranging the garden, imposing some sort of order, or at least weed between the gladiolas and bee balm. The word is haphazard. The very opposite of what a garden should be. I imagine the mother just throwing flower seeds out the window when she has a free second because what else is she going to do?

Another neighbor did the whole “big rock, terraced” landscape thing which is so popular these days. I think they’ll regret it sooner than later. After all, who wants a rock quarry in their front yard?

A brand new house, built Southern Plantation style between a brick rancher and something akin to a double-wide, put down sod, and of course, that’s always where Aggie decides to poop. Because, everyone knows, you can’t hide poop in sod.

One more house, with a Cape Cod style, finally put down mulch recently, to my great relief. Though, I have not made up my mind about an enormous silver maple in their front yard. My thinking is, it needs to go. My understanding is, everyone will have a hissy fit. One does not cut down trees, anymore, even if they are something as worthless as a silver maple. Tree-huggers galore. I lack sentiment in the garden. I’m reasoning that the dang thing has been here over 100 years. Isn’t that long enough? It is ruining the overall garden design, and trust me, I’ve planted more plants than most people have ever seen. That should count for something when it comes to chopping down trees. True?

So, yes, I’ll admit to what people always wonder if I do–judge other people’s yards. Well, obviously, I’m noticing. A polite way, perhaps, of saying judging. But–and here’s the take-away, and why I don’t consider it judging, which has a such negative overtones–I am enamored by it all. I find every begonia or bee balm, every coleus or caladium, every hosta or hydrangea, charming. Observing what is planted in the yard gives a glimpse of the folks’ inside, a small peek into their hearts. And, aside from a poorly placed portulaca, how do you not love that?  .