Now that El Nino has brought the rain, our once-dry backyard has sprung back with a vengeance. I don’t think what’s growing back there is what homeowners would normally want in their backyard—in fact, I’m quite sure it’s just all kinds of weeds. But, everything looks lush and green, and there’s something oddly satisfying about that. Even the enormous asparagus plant we thought we had uprooted over the summer has resurrected.
When we bought the house, we marveled at the size of the backyard as a great place for the kids to play. However, the previous owners didn’t do much to it, and they had a large dog that would have laid waste to any sod. One of our future projects is a complete overhaul of the back to have more seating with a safer play area for the kids. Last year, we spoke to our friend, Erica, a landscape architect, to come up with a plan. One of the things I asked for was a small kitchen garden, where I could grow herbs and some vegetables. One of my big annoyances in life is buying herbs from the store for a certain recipe, only to see most of it go to waste. Besides, it would be great to teach Sofia how things grow and to show her the connection between living things and the food on our table. I imagined myself in another Nancy Meyer movie, this time It’s Complicated, where Meryl Streep’s character is picking tomatoes in her garden.
Growing up, we were surrounded by green. Even though we lived right smack in the middle of the city, the family home was surrounded by gardens that my grandparents meticulously maintained. My lola’s (grandmother’s) specialty was orchids. She had them growing out of pots and attached to trees and they ranged from tiny, yellow-and-brown “Dancing ladies” to snow-white cattleyas the size of my hand. Lola’s orchids were so prized that flower shops would stop by and ask if she had any available for sale. My grandfather grew bromeliads, some with vibrant pink or red centers that exploded at certain times of the year. Every morning and afternoon, they would walk the entire garden with their pruning shears to snip off any dead leaves and make note of plants that needed some TLC. I think the longest-living plant I had as a child was the corn plant I brought home from a grade-school science project, which grew to be about 4 feet high before it somehow died of dehydration. Needless to say, the green thumb my grandparents possessed seems to have bypassed me altogether.
High-maintenance plants and delicate flowers would utterly defeat me, and I feel like a vegetable garden would be more useful in the end. It doesn’t hurt to dream, but Erica knew from personal experience that many times our aspirations don’t quite match up with the reality of our everyday lives. She suggested that we start small, with a narrow raised planting bed on the edge of the proposed kids’ play space and some planters closer to the house for herbs.
Right now, it’s all still in the planning stages (the funding stage has to come later, haha). But I’m inspired by these beautiful, working outdoor spaces:
Victoria‘s kitchen garden in Santa Barbara is a home cook’s dream. Who wouldn’t want to spend time out here, picking up veggies for a tasty salad?
The orderliness of Brit‘s edible garden is sure to appeal to Mr. D. It has a little of everything: veggies, berries, and herbs. Just enough to feed the fam without over-planting.
Brooke‘s vegetable garden is both an extension of the gorgeous landscape and the peaceful interiors. This is basically the view from her office. I think I would feel an enormous sense of productivity watching this garden grow as I create.
Rosalind Creasy turned an empty driveway into a modern, meandering, edible garden. The smell of all those fresh plants and herbs must just be intoxicating.
What’s in your home garden? What are you favorite vegetables and herbs to plant?