The land in front of my house is the only area of my property that has southern exposure, and thus the only place I can plant most wildflowers and vegetables. That’s how I stumbled onto the idea of making my front yard a friendlier place: I had no other spot where I could do any serious gardening. After I got started, I quickly became a fan of sustainability and permaculture. To me, it makes much more sense to have a yard that’s beautiful, edible, livable, and drought-tolerant than trying to have a yard that looks like a golf course. I had never had the golf-course lawn anyway. I had rather pridefully considered myself a conservationist because I did not water the front yard at all. I referred to this method of conservation as “zero-scape”: xeriscape taken to its outer limits. But I finally had to admit that what I was doing wasn’t conservation; it was just a refusal to do anything. The sun-bleached expanse of weeds, Bermuda grass, and stickers in front of the house was unusable–no one could even walk across it due to its bristling arsenal of sand burs.
After I retired, I hesitantly began to reclaim this war zone a few feet at a time. I overcame my fear of the neighbors–(Would they think I was nuts?) and of various Dallas/Fort Worth authorities–(Would I be violating landscaping ordinances?) and set to work mapping out a wildflower garden and planting rows of vegetables. So far, the city, my neighbors, and my garden are coexisting in harmony.
The majority of my plants came up from seed given to me free, gratis, and for nothing; the garden in effect named itself. I provide the labor, and my husband mows the perimeter. This garden has helped me regain my sanity, which had vaporized after my stint in corporate America. I’m actually feeling human again–much more connected to myself, to other people, and to life in general. I am grateful for my flowers and food and want to share the bounty with the online gardening community, which has given me a lot of good ideas about how to get things to grow.