Derek Jarman garden photo courtesy Flickr
For decades, I have wondered idly whether a punk garden would make sense for the front of the house, and if so, what it might look like. It’s a shame to insult the essential loveliness of flora, but I finally found the opening I’ve been looking for.
Over the last few growing seasons, I’ve given most of the garden back to native plants, a rewarding experiment that has cut days off my workload. The front sward is a small river of clover and yarrow in bloom, and it’s approaching the dry season, when I water not at all.
The front stoop looked a little bleak without the usual pots of geranium, and I salvaged a veteran three-legged Mexican terra-cotta planter from the alley a few weeks ago, planting it with a tomato I hoped would cascade down the hot cement steps of the front entry. My experimental format promptly failed, leaving me with a nice piece of terra cotta mulched with some okay pebbles and a tomato the same color as the pot.
A rare visit to Great Big Northern European Home Furnishings Central turned up a sassy fake zinnia just the right color green. I swapped out the dead tomato for an equally dead but more appealing leafless blossom, and I think it works. There’s a back-up fake chrysanthemum for Labor Day.
The garden section of the store, my favorite section actually, also supplied packages of bleached corkscrew willow stalks meant for interior accents. I planted one amidst the tall yarrow flowers, and it punctuates it beautifully. More will follow.
I don’t think this would have worked before a new set of townhouses appeared across the street. They have high-tech metal siding and the flat urban planes that are influenced by Japanese architecture. The buildings integrate the single-family Victorian houses on the street with the ill-advised 1950s remodeling of an early twentieth-century apartment building.
I spent an afternoon loafing in the hammock long enough to realize that the new construction is painted just the color of the trunks of the towering ash trees that front it, and its dark surfaces are the color of the shadows.
Not bad. Hope they sell.
-30- More after the jump.