• Garden Like You Mean It (And a Book Giveaway!)

    by  • September 26, 2011 • Miscellaneous

    So, if you’ve been following my noisy self on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed that there was quite a lot going on last week. A few (truly awesome) garden writers and bloggers, a few websites, and even a couple of celebs got into the act, and lent their voices for an important cause. What did we all rally behind? A teacher and his garden. You can read my TreeHugger post here for more background, but the gist of it is that the city of Memphis wanted this teacher to dismantle his garden, because of a complaint from a neighbor.

    Seeing photos of the garden, I can honestly say that I don’t see a problem. Veggies in the front yard? Awesome. Rows of nice, neat wooden vermicomposting bins? Envious. Sunflowers, rain barrels, tire planters? Love, love, love. But the thing is, what I think of this teacher’s garden, or anyone else’s garden (or what you think of mine, frankly) shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter to us (because we should be gardening in ways that make us happy). And it shouldn’t matter to city bureaucrats and judges. It still boggles the mind that, in the words of the judge in this particular case, “if it causes is complaint, it’s a nuisance.”

    You know what I think? I think we all need to just mind our own damn gardens.

    Stop looking over the fence criticizing and/or envying your neighbor’s garden. Just look at the soil beneath your feet, the plants that surround you. Enjoy the garden gnomes, tire planters, or lack thereof. Don’t worry about anyone’s “ugly garden” but your own. And for crying out loud, don’t go around taking photos of people’s gardens so you can make fun of them on your blog and on Twitter. Yeah, that’s a useful way to spend our time…

    This isn’t a new theme here. I’ve been saying the same thing for a long time now. I talked about how I’ve been “giving veggie gardeners a bad name” for years, and why it’s stupid to hate on marigolds (or other plants) just because you wouldn’t happen to choose to grow them. Gardens are personal. You have no idea why someone made the choices they made. And they have no idea why you made the ones you made, either.

    It comes down to just being happy, enjoying your garden, and hoping that others enjoy theirs. Other people’s gardens are not bringing down your property values (one of the dumbest arguments I’ve ever heard) and a few people having haphazard veggie gardens is not giving a black mark to those who choose to garden in neat and tidy potagers.

    It’s not just me. Felder Rushing says the same thing. He wrote a book on it. It’s called Slow Gardening: A No-Stress Philosophy for All Senses and Seasons, and I wish everyone would read it. Rushing is all about “embracing your bliss” — something we could all stand to do more often, I think.

    Win a Copy of Slow Gardening

    Want to win a copy of Slow Gardening? Leave a comment here telling me if you’ve ever decided not to do something in your garden because you were afraid of what the neighbors might think. No, I don’t mean that time you decided against nude tomato harvesting. I mean did you decide against a certain plant or item, or design, because it would make your garden stick out like a sore thumb? Have you been dreaming of putting something off-the-wall in your garden, but haven’t had the guts to do it yet? Tell me about it!

    EDIT: OK, apparently we’re being shy about telling me what you’ve been putting off. Just leave a comment telling me you want the book, and I’ll pick one on Friday.

    Comment before midnight on Thursday, and I’ll pick one comment at random, and announce the winner on Friday. Please note that you will be receiving a copy of Slow Gardening that I read to review for my About.com site. The title page is a bit wrinkled, courtesy of my son. Consider it “character.” :-)

    UPDATE: Congrats to Derek from Plantgasm, who was lucky #6! I hope you enjoy the book! Thank you to everyone who commented!

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