I used to be one of those people who would weed and weed and weed. I liked there to be so much space between plants that you could easily see how hard I had worked on that weeding! I liked the look of the piles and piles of mulch that I had spent hours spreading. I edged every time we mowed the lawn (with a reel mower, of course).
Totally anal, you know?
But I have grown a lot as a gardener and now I can even say that my laziness is totally good for the planet and its inhabitants.
Right now if you walked behind my house, you might notice that the persons who tend this yard aren't anal ... at all.
When I sit and have a glass of wine with friends in the evening, I have to resist getting up and chopping things down. Though, as time goes by, my resistance takes a whole lot less effort.
I stare at the dead and dying cornflowers and think how I could neaten those up at the very least. But then the next day, as my partner exits the house to pick the rabbit her fresh organic daily salad, I hear my partner yelp with glee, and she runs in to tell me that at least ten goldfinches rose up out of the cornflowers when she opened the door.
You see, those beautiful goldfinches are seed eaters and all those dead heads are like a gourmet buffet to their little beaks. Who could possibly take those down? The goldfinches would then just move on to some other lucky person's yard!
The same is true of the asparagus that are now going to seed, standing tall like some bizarre fern forest near our lily beds. I love watching the various finches and sparrows try to teeter on the "branches" and eat the little seed pods that dangle below.
And we have stopped eating the very tiniest of the strawberries that are now coming in. For this fact, the wren and the rabbits are grateful -- I'm sure of it.
We also let our grass grow a little longer than most of the neighbors. Not too long; I'm not talking code violation here.
But long enough, that a bit of drought doesn't leave us brown and crunchy in one day like it does everyone else. Long enough, that the dandelions can grow for our rabbit, who thinks of them as seasonal candy. Long enough, that the thyme we planted throughout the lawn can spread and release its scent as you walk barefoot through it. Long enough, that it's interesting to the ground foraging, bug eating flickers that have the most intensely yellow under-wings you have ever seen.
Now that I don't try to make our yard look like something out of a magazine, it looks even more like something out of a magazine than ever. It is lusty, as a garden should be, and it's a little wild, as the animals and birds crave it to be.
I am proud of this little piece of wildness that we have cultivated in this small city, and as we plant another tree this year and start putting in a small pond, I am already dreaming of all the new friends we will make.
Christine C. Reed lives on a Great Lake in a small city. She and her partner have been car free for just over seven years and don't see an end to this one year experiment. She spends most of her time dreaming up even bigger garden plans and writing from a dormered window in their brick cape cod. She is also the author of www.blisschick.net