I have a confession to make. I really, truly don’t like living in populated areas. I never have. I grew up in the suburbs just south of the city of Chicago, in a place called South Holland. And, I hated it! With a passion, I hated it. Hated it so much that by the time I was fourteen, I promised myself I was going to get out of there and NEVER again live in anything that even resembled suburbia.
I hated watching houses go up in the small subdivision I grew up in because for every house that went in, a little bit more of the wild places that I played in, explored, day-dreamed in, and had adventures (some real, most make-believe) disappeared. The trees came down, the marshy spots were filled in, the tall grasses became manicured lawns, and the stars were less and less visible at night.
I have lived away from cities and suburbia since I left my childhood home those many years ago. And, I don’t miss all that concrete in the least. I don’t miss the regimented manner of sectioning off life. Anyone who has seen my garden on the pool deck understands that even though I’m constrained by the concrete of the in-ground pool and the fence which surrounds the pool (I do have dogs and children here), I have the flower beds by the pool planted with a profusion of wild flowers which are not segmented, regimented, and constrained. I have several different types of Echinacea and I’ve allowed them to grow as they will, where they will. My Indian Blanket (gaillardia) is gradually filling in the empty spots left when I had to cull all of my hollyhocks due to a severe infestation of rust. I have several Russian sage plants that have spread, defining the fence around the pool, their branches pushing through the weave to dance with lavender wands. The latest addition to the flower bed is a variety of Baptisia that is called “purple smoke” and I am in love with this plant. It grows as a large bushy plant that dies back in the winter. Once the flowers are spent, it forms black seed pods.
The rock garden between the house and the garage follows flowing lines and keeps many of the large rocks we have brought back from Wyoming on our annual trip. I’ve broadcast cleome and verbena in the gravel and allow both to grow almost anywhere they wish in the rock garden, except for right along the stepping stones that lead from the breezeway to the pool, as cleome does have tiny thorns along its stem and it does hurt when it snags an unwary swimmer heading to the water. While I have many plants in planters, it is the cleome and the verbena which fill in a lot of the space between the planters.
The latest addition to the “landscaping” is a rock garden in the front yard, and again, it is a series of gentle curves nudging into the grass. I’ve planted perennials in that rock garden, too, plants that will grow and spread as they mature. I’m planning to put in a few more Russian sage plants near the tree stump of the old blue spruce which gave up the ghost a few years ago.
It’s getting to the time of year when the flowers will begin to die back. I’ll plan more perennials to plant over the winter and watch the gold finches and black-capped chickadees feast on the seed heads of the Echinacea over the winter. And, come spring, the regimentation of winter will fade away and once more, I’ll let my garden grow.