Nous pouvons cultiver nos jardins

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I’m not going to be mowing the lawn this Labor Day weekend.

That’s because I won’t and don’t have a lawn, and mowing the lawn sounds like work; in fact, it was work, when I undercharged all the neighborhood for doing it when I was a teenager. I don’t like work, unless it’s work I want to be doing, like blogging. Anyhow, I recommend gardening for a lot of reasons, but one of them is sheer pleasure. Here’s the view from my summer office, out in the garden:


(Green is annual; blue is perennial.)

So, from where I sit at my desk, I can see sixteen kinds of flower. (This photo was taken in June, before the zinnias, poppies, morning glories, and tomatoes. Not counting the weeds. And I now see that I’ve forgotten to mark the pink clover, and the white clover.) And I can see and hear the honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, and hummingbirds that these flowers evolved to entice and seduce. And the entrance to my office is framed by beach roses — tough plants resistant to sand and salt spread by the town in the winter! — so I begin my day outside with a welcome fragrance. (The Japanese beetles were very light this year.) Running a construction-grade, grounded extension cord from the house through the winter squash and tomato beds to my desk for power is one of the best things I ever did for myself. And WiFi means I didn’t have to figure out how to do the same thing thing with an ethernet cable!

As you can see, my garden is informal and ragged round the edges, although edges it does have, and by design: People like to talk to me, but they’re on one side of my living fence, the raspberry bushes, and I’m on the other, the ideal existential position for an INTJ, curb appeal or no. But informality means I don’t have to weed, which is work, which I don’t like, so I just mentally reformulate “weeds” into “future mulch” and rip the bastards up when I think they might give rise to comment in the town. I don’t know what my rose-growing grandmother would have thought of that attitude, which could matter since, as it turns out, what I’ve created is a grandmother’s garden:

ELLSWORTH — Bachelor’s buttons, borage, sweet peas, foxgloves, pinks, bee balms, larkspur, comfrey, hyssop, rosemary and more, would have been found in gardens of yore.

The Ellsworth Garden Club invited Heirloom Garden of Maine to speak at Woodlawn Museum Monday about the Grandmother’s Garden movement [Really? Hmm….] in American history.

The term Grandmother’s Garden is used to describe a style of garden in America between 1865 and 1915.

Grandmother’s Gardens would be enclosed, informal gardens close to a house and tended by one woman [or person]. They were often framed with rosebushes.

Well, that sounds an awful lot like my garden. I’ve underlined the similarities; borage (hat tip, insanelysane) was the first one that jumped out at me. And my grandmother Strether was a great one for old-fashioned roses.

So I thought I’d go looking for this “movement,” which as it turns out is not all the easy to find information about. Readers?

This is the best material I can find. I’ve included two images from the Alabama Cooperative Extension, and prose from the University of Vermont Extension. The flowers I’ve grown are underlined; not all appear in the photo above:

… Many of the plants and the gardening styles today are similar to those of a century ago, giving credence to another saying that nothing is really new, just rediscovered. This gardening style and accompanying plant palette is a trend often known as “Grandmother’s Garden.”

It is really the American cottage garden, an old-fashioned garden of hardy perennials, annuals (many self-sown like Johnny Jump-ups), and native American plants. Although native plants are increasing in popularity now for reasons such as helping pollinators, a century ago they often were more readily available than new introductions.

Permaculture teaches us to be very conscious of pollinators: Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds.

In addition to native plants, sunflowers were popular then, as they have become once again. Tropical plants, especially those with bold foliage [like hostas?]., were introduced into the more formal Victorian gardens, another trend rediscovered in today’s gardens. These include such as the canna and castor bean [or Scarlet Runners?], large elephant ears and smaller but similarly shaped caladiums. These days we see lots of ornamental grasses used in gardens, such as the fountain grass, just as they used then. Roses, peonies, phlox, and hollyhocks were among the perennials commonly planted and are still popular now.

Grandmothers garden 1 Often appearing haphazard or growing at random, grandmother’s garden was actually designed as a painting with an eye to composition using color, shape, and texture. It is no wonder then that so many painters, writers, poets, and other artists created such gardens. These gardens inspired them and often are seen in their works. …

If you’d like to create such a garden, to be an “artist” or “genius”, landscape architect Thomas Rainer notes that three design principles should be employed. Cottage gardens were overflowing with massed plants; individual plant types aren’t as important as sheer volume.

For example, the raspberry patch, where “sheer volume” means the patch also works as a living fence; this is the permaculture principle of stacking functions.

You shouldn’t be able to see soil or mulch, and don’t use groundcovers.

Here I differ from Grandmother’s practice, because I use sheet mulch over the soil, and clover as a groundcover, too (pollinators).

Secondly, many “filler” plants were used. These perform as their name indicates, to fill in around other plants. Examples of fillers might be the spreading perennial geraniums or masses of low ornamental grasses.

This I don’t do, and it sounds like a good idea.

Thirdly, cottage gardens had a mix of flower types for variety. You’ll want to use upright spikes such as hollyhocks or foxgloves or false indigo, along with button shapes such as bee balm, daisies such as cone flowers, clusters such as tall garden phlox [or Black-eyed Susans?], and plumes such as astilbe or goatsbeard [or milkweed?].

These American old-fashioned gardens of yesteryear differed from gardens abroad, such as the English gardens, in that they were most often the work of one person (usually a woman) instead of a team of gardeners (usually men). They were often rectangular beds, bordered by planks, stones [and bricks], or low-growing plants, compared to the English borders.

Grandmothers garden 2 These old-fashioned gardens also were different from the more formally designed estate gardens of the period, the formal Victorian gardens, or the functional gardens of working farms. The old-fashioned garden often incorporated vegetables and fruits for aesthetics and show, rather than just for food as in the working and prior colonial gardens. Such “multi-functional” gardens are once again popular, and a component of permaculture.

My garden is indeed multi-functional, but I don’t use vegetables decoratively (except for the Scarlet Runners that I ran up a tree inspired by those English permaculturalists with the extraordinary cardigans).

Unlike the larger estate gardens and those of England, which were separate from the living quarters and entities unto themselves, the old-fashioned gardens were located close to the house. They often were used as intimate living spaces or an outdoor room, much as we see in today’s home gardens.

My garden is in permaculture’s Zone 0, right next to the house, and is, as we have seen, my office during the warmer months.

Most of our garden traditions and trends today originated during the period of Grandmother’s Garden (1865-1915). While we often hear of the influence of English gardens and horticulture literature of that period on American gardens, many of these concepts actually were written about prior to these books and ideas being known in America.

One wonders why the 1865 starting point? Perhaps it’s from the title of the goto book on the topic, May Brawley Hill’s Grandmother’s Garden: The Old-Fashioned American Garden 1865-1915, though an Amazon search of the book on “1865” gives no help. Still, the book sounds pretty neat:

An art historian specializing in American art, Hill combines her expertise in this area with her passionate interest in gardening in a splendid book focusing on gardening in the U.S. between the Civil War and World War I. She traces the development of a native garden style through poems, letters, journals, and garden writing found in period books and magazines. The book’s most impressive aspect is the 75 opulent impressionist paintings reproduced in full color.

So, herewith, an iPad-manufactured “impressionist” version of the beach roses on either side of the path to my office:


I like gardening because it’s forgiving (assuming the woodchuck doesn’t chow down on all my vegetables, in which case there will be no forgiving at all). I don’t always do the right thing, but much more often than not, I find myself having done the right thing without knowing what I was doing. So, I’ve been working on this patch for about five years now, each year making it more and more both itself and what I want, and it turns out that for the whole five years, I’ve been working toward a “Grandmother’s Garden,” without knowing it.

Very strange. I don’t know if there’s a political aspect to this, unless it be that labor that is not alienated is much more like play; fun, not grim. And of course there’s a social aspect to gardening, in that I discuss design and technique with others of like mind, and we sometimes help each other out, or exchange seeds and scions. Then, too, I grow much more than I eat (not having closed the seasonal circle to canning), so I get a lot of pleasure out of giving vegetables away. But if there’s one lesson I’d take away from my gardening experience, it would be along these lines:

Take my street address as a proxy for my house and garden, together; my “patch,” as it were. My patch is a node embedded within a number of networks: The USPS delivery route; the water system; the sewage system; the power grid; the local loop of the phone system; the road system; the financial system from the nearby ATM; propane, wood, and heating oil delivery; and my social network, online and off. These stacked systems, all bearing down on the single node of my “patch,” seem complex individually and in the aggregate: And yet they are as nothing, childish toys, beside the interwoven complexity of a tiny little garden, itself as nothing beside the scale and complexity of the mycelial mat within the soil (which the fanciful might consider Gaia’s nervous system).

But back to the lesson, which would be: As for binary categorization, less of it. And as for systems thinking, both historically grounded and dynamic, more of it. It’s more fun, it’s more true, and it’s more performant: More likely to get us out of the hole we’re in. I wish I were a lot better at it!*

NOTE * Of course, the way NC tracks financial flows and their discontents is exactly the sort of systems thinking I have in mind….


And not to count my tomatoes before they are ripe, but from another “grandmother’s garden” post:

Sun-Warmed Beefsteak Tomatoes

The key to this dish is that the rest of the meal must already be on the table before it is prepared.


Fresh, ripe, garden Beefsteak tomatoes, or farmers market, organic tomatoes

Olive oil

Fresh ground pepper & salt


The tomatoes should be warm and fragrant from the sun, just picked if possible.  As everyone begins eating, slice and serve the still warm tomatoes. They may be drizzled with olive oil if desired.  Add fresh ground salt and pepper to taste.  If using organic farmers market tomatoes try leaving them outside to ‘sun warm’ them.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Paul Tioxon

    Don’t forget the basil. I used to eat tomatoes like that from the backyard garden, grown by father. He turned our little side and backyard into a vegetable garden filled with tomatoes, stringbeans, eggplant, scallions, zuchinni, along with a couple of peach trees. The neighborhood we lived in had been primarily German until my Irish grandparents snuck in with a little money inherited in 1940. The house stayed in the family til about 2003. We then became the oldest family on the block, a title not easily acquired in Philadelphia, and not lightly taken. Of course, all of these old guys like my father gardened as if it were the 1800s, somewhere back in a ancestral village. And the tomatoes and zuchini were simply too much to deal with, feeding the entire block and then some of younger families too busy with kids to garden.

    1. jimmy james

      Those Pennsylvania summers I remember well. Tomatoes aplenty, so much so that you got sick of them by September; zucchini, all manner of squash, the occasional pumpkin (which usually went to the kids for halloween unless baked into a koshi.

      It was nice to live in a neighborhood where everyone did a little summer food planting.

    2. JerseyJeffersonian

      Another good way to eat those tomatoes is this:

      Halve them (and cut out any hard core if present)
      Sprinkle with a little olive oil, shredded fresh basil, and dust overall with a healthy amount of parmesan or a mix of parmesan and romano cheeses
      Wrap the whole construction in alumninum foil, and slowly cook on the charcoal grill until the tomatoe is tender

      Everybody who likes tomatoes gets at least one to accompany anything else that you are grilling.

  2. Skeptic

    Yer singin’ my song here.

    First, why hasn’t the God Technology given us grass that does not need mowing or grass that grows only slowly?

    Secondly, why all that grass anyway? Nobody raising cattle, goats, sheep in my immediate neighborhood. And nobody, with all those sat dishes on their houses, playing traditional lawn sports like croquet, badminton, archery, etc. Nada, but many watching sports on TV.

    Thirdly, people round here sure do love to work sitting for hours round and round on their RIDEM lawnmowers. Even spend money on chemical fertilizer so there can be even more mowing. Week after week. Must be some sort of grass addiction.

    Fourthly, to learn more about lawns and alternative, eco agriculture take a look at Acres U.S.A. It is North America’s oldest, largest magazine covering commercial-scale organic and sustainable farming. They will even give you a free sample issue:

    Finallly, for those in the NE area, there is a wonderful fair coming up in Maine September 20-22. It’s called the Common Ground Fair:

    Or find something similar in your region.

    1. sleepy

      I hate the manicured, fertiilized, herbicided lawns in Iowa, full of invasive, non-native crap like bluegrass, fescue, etc.

      In that spirit, I plowed up my frontyard this spring and planted a mix of native prairie grasses and native prairie flowers. It’s doing well, but takes a year or two to really get going.

      Thus far I’ve escaped the city yard nazis who demand a closely cropped lawn.

    2. JerseyJeffersonian

      Well, when you’ve got two rescued dogs, one a mixed flat-coated retriever/border collie, and a full border collie who love to tear ass around the yard, play ball, soft frisbee, etc., the reason you have that yard becomes obvious. It’s also a lot easier to do the necessary poop patrol.

      Got gardens, want more of them, but I’m keeping yard for the joyful gamboling of my two girls. Seeing the border collie, who was clearly abused, trotting about in that lawn, tail held high, enjoying life and being loved by the present humans in her life (in marked contrast to the previous (sub)humans), makes me think that that expanse of grass has its uses. Sure I have to mow it; but I compost the clippings with the fallen leaves from the trees, so it stays here and helps to enrich the soil as I add more gardening space in the yard.

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Oh, and I let that nitrogen-fixing clover have its place in the lawn. I like to let the flowers set on long enough so that the bees get a good crack at them before the next mowing. I also set the blade height high enough that more blossoms quickly appear.

        It’s not a one-size-fits-all world. I don’t listen to the “having a lawn is sin” nazis any more than I listen to the “it must be all grass in monoculture” nazis.

  3. Melody


    GOD: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature, what in the world is
    going on down there in the U.S.? What in the world happened to the
    dandelions, violets, thistles and the stuff I started eons ago? I had a
    perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of
    soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the
    long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of
    songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of color by now. All I see
    are patches of green.

    ST. FRANCIS: It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. They are called
    the Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers “weeds” and went to
    great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

    GOD: Grass? But it is so boring, it’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract
    butterflies, bees or birds, only grubs and sod worms. It’s temperamental
    with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want grass growing

    ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and
    keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing it and poisoning
    any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

    GOD: The spring rains and the warm weather probably makes the grass grow
    really fast. That must make the Suburbanites very happy.

    ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it has grown a little,
    they cut it-sometimes two times a week.

    GOD: They cut it? Do they bale it like hay?

    ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in

    GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

    ST. FRANCIS: No sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

    GOD: Now let me get this straight: They fertilize it to make it grow and
    when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

    ST. FRANCIS: Yes, sir.

    GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back
    on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves
    them a lot of work.

    ST. FRANCIS: You aren’t going to believe this Lord. When the grass
    stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it
    so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

    GOD: What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a
    sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in
    the spring to á provide beauty and shade in summer. In the autumn they
    fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep the moisture in the
    soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves
    become compost to enhance the soil.
    It’s a natural circle of life.

    ST. FRANCIS: You’d better sit down, Lord. As soon as the leaves fall,
    the Suburbanites rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled

    GOD: No way!! What do they do to protect the shrubs and tree roots in
    the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

    ST. FRANCIS: After throwing the leaves away they go out and buy
    something called mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place
    of the leaves.

    GOD: And where to they get this mulch?

    ST. FRANCIS: They cut down the trees and grind them up to make mulch.

    GOD: Enough!! I don’t want to think about this anymore. Saint
    Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled
    for us tonight?

    ST. CATHERINE: “Dumb and Dumber,” Lord. It’s a real stupid movie

    GOD: Never mind — I think I just heard the whole story from Saint

    1. F. Beard

      Very good!

      And it strongly reenforces my belief that most of us belong on the family farms the banks stole from us. Family farms, orchards, vineyards, etc. are the Biblical ideal too (Micah 4:4) which is why families could not be permanently dispossessed from their agricultural land (Leviticus 25). Towns and cities were for a relative few.

      Yep. If we enjoy wasting our time on lawn tractors, imagine how fulfilling a real farm would be!

  4. ambrit

    What a wonderful post. We do a small herb garden in a raised bed along the side of the back yard. My wife learned her cooking skills from her step grandmother, who was, from all accounts, an excellent Acadian French cook. (My wife still refuses to use anything from out of a can in her cuisine.) One of her grandfathers gardened, as in an entire half acre of vegetables each year, by himself! My mother talks about the vegetable garden that was their backyard in London during and following the War Years. Supplies were so tight, they needed that produce to maintain a healthy diet. There is the point I’ve been groping towards; we’re in all probability going to have to supply a good bit of our food ourselves as the commercial food nets begin to degrade. All it will take is something like a serious oil shock, to make the transport costs of foodstuffs skyrocket, or a hiccup in the water resources of our food producing regions. Anyone know just when the Ollagalla Resivoir begins to play out? I don’t.
    As an addendum, I’ll ask the Commentariat; has anyone else noticed a decline in the hummingbird population in their region? All the local birders, (Deep South) are mentioning this when the subject comes up.
    I think Ill end by paraphrasing Lyndon Johnson: “When you’ve got them by the (stomach,) their hearts and minds will follow.”

  5. back in the past

    Gardening is so good for you, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I tend to a 1/4 acre vegetable garden, which supplies about half our food, while the better half takes care of the flowers. It’s an equitable division of labor.

  6. allcoppedout

    I would have moved the lawn a few weeks ago in order to sit or lie on it on Labor Day. Lambert seems to have used a retrospective planning scheme in his permaculture, reminiscent of our secret intelligence services in predicting the collapse of the USSR or economists on the financial crash. Most of what I grow on my permaculture plot is eaten with such rapacity by creatures living out there I only venture out in daylight with the dog at my side.

  7. JEHR

    We are reaching the stage in life where mowing has become a real chore. I would like to make my front lawn into a “Grandma’s Garden” as described in this posting. I am thinking that I could start with extending the large flower bed at the front: raised flower beds could be added each year until all the grass is dealt with.

    Thanks for the great post!

  8. PQS


    Lambert, have you read “Green Thoughts” by Eleanor Perenyi? You would love her sensibility. I think she just died a few years ago….she had high praise for the cottage garden and a pretty low opinion of the lawn culture, although she submitted to it due to local restrictions…her book came out in the 1980s, way before any of our current ideas about horticulture had gained wide acceptance.

    For us, we are busy putting in more lawn because actually lawn is less work than maintaining over an acre of beds and etc. Here in the northwest, we don’t need to water, and all winter the mowing is very minimal as the grass goes to sleep. I like to think I’m turning the property into an “English style” garden, as in wide swathes of green punctuated by mature trees. It’s almost not a “garden” like people think of it, but it does make for nice vistas.

    I won’t give up my raised beds, though – that’s where I play with vegetables and, this year, dahlias. If you have none, put some in – Perenyi called them the “Renoir girls” of the garden, and so they are. Some of them are grown to huge size – “dinnerplate” size. They are tropical, though – up your way you’ll have to pull them and store them over the winter, as they will die in the frost and cold underground. But they will produce all summer until, as Perenyi says, they will turn into “blackened rags” with the first frost.

      1. bobh

        Fron Theory of the Leisure Class:

        By further habituation to an appreciative perception of the marks of expensiveness in goods, and by habitually identifying beauty with reputability, it comes about that a beautiful article which is not expensive is accounted not beautiful. In this way it has happened, for instance, that some beautiful flowers pass conventionally for offensive weeds; others that can be cultivated with relative ease are accepted and admired by the lower middle class, who can afford no more expensive luxuries of this kind; but these varieties are rejected as vulgar by those people who are better able to pay for expensive flowers and who are educated to a higher schedule of pecuniary beauty in the florist’s products; while still other flowers, of no greater intrinsic beauty than these, are cultivated at great cost and call out much admiration from flower-lovers whose tastes have been matured under the critical guidance of a polite environment.
        …It is not a constitutional difference of endowments in the aesthetic respect, but rather a difference in the code of reputability which specifies what objects properly lie within the scope of honorific consumption for the class to which the critic belongs. It is a difference in the traditions of propriety with respect to the kinds of things which may, without derogation to the consumer, be consumed under the head of objects of taste and art. With a certain allowance for variations to be accounted for on other grounds, these traditions are determined, more or less rigidly, by the pecuniary plane of life of the class.
        Everyday life affords many curious illustrations of the way in which the code of pecuniary beauty in articles of use varies from class to class, as well as of the way in which the conventional sense of beauty departs in its deliverances from the sense untutored by the requirements of pecuniary repute. Such a fact is the lawn, or the close-cropped yard or park, which appeals so unaffectedly to the taste of the Western peoples. It appears especially to appeal to the tastes of the well-to-do classes in those communities in which the dolicho-blond element predominates in an appreciable degree. The lawn unquestionably has an element of sensuous beauty, simply as an object of apperception, and as such no doubt it appeals pretty directly to the eye of nearly all races and all classes; but it is, perhaps, more unquestionably beautiful to the eye of the dolicho-blond than to most other varieties of men. This higher appreciation of a stretch of greensward in this ethnic element than in the other elements of the population, goes along with certain other features of the dolicho-blond temperament that indicate that this racial element had once been for a long time a pastoral people inhabiting a region with a humid climate. The close-cropped lawn is beautiful in the eyes of a people whose inherited bent it is to readily find pleasure in contemplating a well-preserved pasture or grazing land.
        For the aesthetic purpose the lawn is a cow pasture; and in some cases today—where the expensiveness of the attendant circumstances bars out any imputation of thrift—the idyl of the dolicho-blond is rehabilitated in the introduction of a cow into a lawn or private ground. In such cases the cow made use of is commonly of an expensive breed. The vulgar suggestion of thrift, which is nearly inseparable from the cow, is a standing objection to the decorative use of this animal. So that in all cases, except where luxurious surroundings negate this suggestion, the use of the cow as an object of taste must be avoided. Where the predilection for some grazing animal to fill out the suggestion of the pasture is too strong to be suppressed, the cow’s place is often given to some more or less inadequate substitute, such as deer, antelopes, or some such exotic beast. These substitutes, although less beautiful to the pastoral eye of Western man than the cow, are in such cases preferred because of their superior expensiveness or futility, and their consequent repute. They are not vulgarly lucrative either in fact or in suggestion.
        Public parks of course fall in the same category with the lawn; they too, at their best, are imitations of the pasture. Such a park is of course best kept by grazing, and the cattle on the grass are themselves no mean addition to the beauty of the thing, as need scarcely be insisted on with anyone who has once seen a well-kept pasture. But it is worth noting, as an expression of the pecuniary element in popular taste, that such a method of keeping public grounds is seldom resorted to. The best that is done by skilled workmen under the supervision of a trained keeper is a more or less close imitation of a pasture, but the result invariably falls somewhat short of the artistic effect of grazing….

        1. avg John

          2 words. Robotic cows. How’s that for “class” taste, speaking of which, they have the added advantage of being able to be programmed to give chocolate milk. And let’s not forget the kids can ride them as they romp and play in the pretend pasture.

  9. ChrisPacific

    We add fresh basil (which is usually in season around the same time) and sliced fresh mozzarella. The tomatoes need to be in season and as close to perfect as possible. If they’re not, make something else with them (pasta sauce is more forgiving and works well with most summer ingredients).

  10. Judith Krause

    Next year plant heirloom tomatoes! Get them from Seed Savers in Decorah, Iowa. Then, along with basil, plant heirloom eggplant. When all is ripe, slice the eggplant a quarter inch thick, brush with olive oil, broil it on both sides. Combine with tomatoes and basil in a nice bowl adding another tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. You won’t think or do another thing until you’ve eaten it all in one sitting.

  11. tulsatime

    I am a fellow INTJ and a fellow dirt addict. I like that garden patch as a defense against mowing. I have too much yard to do that with, in fact I treasure my time behind the mower, or in the actual dirt. When I decide I have spent as much time as allocated, or am close to the edge of heat stroke, I can look at what I have worked on and know that it is. It’s immune from file delete, it exists outide of any committee.

    This year I have been surprised with extra flowering tree/shrubs in the margins. So far I have one in a burn pile and two just past the mow line near woods. It’s time to extend the line of flowering shrubbery, perhaps we shall create a vale or a path….

  12. Economystic

    Lovely & inspiring Lambert !
    but but
    where are the cats? Hoople especially wants to know…just to round out the picture.

  13. mistah charley, ph.d.

    as for systems thinking, both historically grounded and dynamic, more of it.

    in a blog comments section, i once recommended the following book, which someone later said they liked very much

    Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows

  14. jrs

    I’d like to have a garden mostly to design it, but plutocratic domination and Ponzi finance plus other factors have made home ownership seem a disastrous choice, and no there aren’t really that many good alternatives to allow gardening if you don’t own property especially that fit in with a busy life. So I just don’t think about it. What’s the point of thinking about all the things it seems I can’t have (due to structural reasons) and getting mad at the world again really?

  15. annie

    cavolo nero (italian name), also called tuscan kale or dragon kale or black kale, is a nice easy plant to mix in with ornamentals and grasses. and when it bolts it gets lovely yellow blossoms excellent in saladsl.

    there are so many types of sages. spiky purple flowers in spring. there’s an ornamental sage that’s lovely, with flowers all summer.

    i like sedums. so many types and colors. in winter the dried flower stalks, or seed heads, are really attractive. you see lots of these used on the high line and the park along the hudson.
    good for foliage variation in both color and texture.

    add some cornus sibirica– kind where the stalks turn red in winter. i think you’re in northern climate so you should be thinking of ‘gardens in winter.’
    phlomis stalks for instance.

  16. HotFlash

    Late to reading this, ystrday was taken up elderberrying, both athering and pruning, today with cleaning out the school garden and pound at a time foraying into elderberry cleaning and freezing. Seems like we left it late enough that some tiny white larvae are infesting the elderberries, not many but the acceptable number of maggots is zero, so prep is taking much longer than usual. I’m generally good for an ‘awwwww” for most baby animals, but I find I just can’t appreciate maggots.

    Your garden is lovely, Lambert, truly an oasis. Grandma Strether would be right at home. But where are the fibble bushes?


Comments are closed.