Mid-July has brought an explosion of white and color in the backyard (and front yard) forest garden. People keep asking about these white lilies — some of them taller than David — so I thought I’d share some of the abundance and beauty:
A peek at the edible ornamental backyard forest garden with black lace elderberry to the left, various currants and jostaberries to the right of the path, plus a potted lemon tree, and off frame to the right, hazelnut, aronia berry and apples:
You can see more of the raised beds that allow abundant growth over a yard full of juglone containing black walnut stumps. The beds are so full that you can’t really see the three beds of triple-tiered produce behind these green zebra tomatoes, bush basil, shiso, egglant, asparagus, beans, chard, and marigolds, but they’re spilling over with a mystery melon, tomatoes, Thai basil, cabbage and more:
The front yard has gone full on sunflower, gladiolus and lilies, so large that you can barely see the cherry and pear trees, blueberry bushes, hazelnuts, kale and kalette behind them:
The bees are very happy here, too, with skirret, chives, borage, calendula, black eyed Susan’s, zinnias and elecampane:
It’s difficult to believe or convey just how non-magical this yard originally felt and looked. Yes, it does take work to maintain, but I actually spend far, far less time in the yard than I did for the first two years of living here. This year, I have spent more time harvesting than anything else: black and red raspberries, blueberries, currants, aronia berries, strawberries, sea kale, lettuce, herbs, asparagus, peas, green beans, pears, sour cherries, tomatoes, basil, garlic, onions, cucumbers, parsnips, cabbage, eggplant, flowers for bouquets and loads and loads and loads of greens!
We eat well, and many of the trees and shrubs have only just begun to produce. We look forward to the extra thirteen asparagus plants I’ve added to the blue house yard, along with more fruit and nut trees and shrubs.
Anyone can add food to their landscape! You don’t need 1/3 of an acre like we have here (minus the houses and garages). Espaliered fruit trees take very little room along a fence. Fruit and nut shrubs and trees can take the place of more traditional ornamentals. Special colors of vegetable plants make them look unrecognizable as food plants, blending into more traditional flower beds. You can use raised beds, plant in the ground, a Garden Tower, “big bag beds,” or any and all combinations of these to fit your space, time and budget. Too much shade? Grow currants. They produce buckets full even in deep shade. No room? Experiment with vertical gardening through trellises, teepees and tiered raised beds.
For me it’s not just about the food. It’s about bringing beauty and nature to an otherwise industrial, impoverished and forlorn spot of earth. Birds, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits and all manner of insects abound in our yards, delighting the eyes and senses … and most importantly, the heart and soul. In a world of chaos, gardens offer a chance to bring peace, abundance and delight, along with grounding and natural anti-depressants. As David likes to say, what’s not to love?
If you missed spring and summer produce, it’s not too late to plant for fall. Look into cool season crops like kale, brassicas, Lucullus chard, beets, carrots, daikon radishes, and even very short season warm weather veggies. Check your seed packs for days to harvest and subtract from your average first frost date to see if you can still get a harvest!
Wishing you and yours abundance and joy.