Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Gardening up front

Jay and I have a nice front, back and one side yard. The other side yard is more of a drainage system for our upland neighbors. The back yard is positively shady and no good for anything but grass, dandelions and creeping charlie. Last summer our front yard featured a large tree protecting a shady, neatly mulched hosta bed with some tidy shade-loving flowering annuals. That is until a July wind storm blew the tree onto the house a week before our wedding (see video) and our shady front was suddenly hot and dry with withering annuals and hostas shirking back into the mulch.

We gave up on the bed after the tree removal people and the roofers trampled all but the sturdiest plants. But spring is here and we have to face the season, "What to do with the mulch bed and hostas that just aren't going to take all that sun without daily watering?" Jay didn't want to replant it with grass and I agreed with him. He also has a fundamental dislike of annual flowering plants which I don't agree with. One thing was clear, we had to do something. One day Jay suggested planting vegetables there. Except for our eastern side yard, the front gets the most sun. I dismissed it as not having much curb appeal, feeding my ongoing desire to sell this house and move east.

But as the days got longer and there was no sign of us getting the house ready to sell, the idea of a front yard vegetable garden began to take root. Before you knew it, I had visions of zucchini, gourds and other sprawling plants fanning across the mulched soil, soaking up the sun and looking beautiful. Well, it would look beautiful to Madison's East siders, this idea could get us kicked off the block here on the West side. But frankly, they haven't complained about the pink flamingos, plastic palm trees at Christmas or my three compost bins, so what's a few vegetable plants in the front yard?

So a week ago, Jay and I dug out all the perennial plants we could identify, and a few we couldn't, split the hostas and gave them new homes in the back yard. (The transplanted hostas have since become veritable salad bowl for the rabbits who are saying "A new pleasure,*" read more if you care). I have ornamental gourds, yellow squash and zucchini under grow lights in the basement and I'm anxiously awaiting 50 degree nights to transplant them into the dirt.

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*To the non-Douglas Adams fans among you, this will sound nonsensical, but I can imagine the rabbits like one of the creatures at the Perpetual Floating Party that Arthur, Ford, and Slartibartfast go to in the Hitchhiker's books, who grab Arthur's cherished bottle of retsina and run off chanting, "A new pleasure, a new pleasure!"


  1. You didn't mention that it was 800,000 hostas. I think you should update the story with this information. I'm just sayin'...

  2. I'd love to see pictures! I also dabble, carefully, with front yard veg on the west side.

  3. Photos coming, thanks for the comment!

  4. I will write more soon, but this weekend we worked on the front-yard garden and three neighbors came along asking what we were up to. We got the same incredulous look from two of them when we told them we were putting in vegetables: "In the front?" One neighbor went so far as to remind us that a number of our neighbors are watching to see what we do there.

    The blog post possibilities are limitless.

  5. hold fast to that front yard garden--my neighbor on the west side has one, and it is a pleasure to stop by when I am walking the dog, to see what is happening today--and other people stop to talk, as well