This is our front yard. These are our flowers as they appeared during the second week of June.
These are our flowers the first week of May, on the day we planted everything. Same flowers, six weeks apart. Beauty and bounty can happen quicker than we think.
When I first moved in to the house, the front yard was full of a truly crazy quantity of pre-irrigated garden beds. As the real estate listing had promised, "front yard converted into an organic 'urban garden'!!" It was inspiring. It was intimidating. The listing photo convinced me without a doubt that bounty was a-coming:
Since — as a recovering Midwesterner — I have an overly developed sense of industriousness, I of course did my best that first summer to plant every single one of the beds with pretty flowers and useful produce. I imagined bounty. I imagined beauty.
I got hilarity.
I grew a jam-packed thatch of carrots, most of which I couldn't manage to extract from the ground. I grew a funny patch of corn stalks which never yielded actual corn. I grew lettuces and other greens, but I over-weeded, unintentionally destroying most of my own crops. The ones that survived, I didn't pick in time, letting them bolt upward and yellow and shrivel.
My successes were few. The cucumbers did okay. My inherited patch of strawberries grew fairly well, but I could take no real credit. I hadn't even weeded it properly. The tomatoes thrived in the sunny bed I'd picked for them, but that, too, was luck.
Year two was pretty much the same, though some of the perennials I'd planted proved promisingly hearty. And my herbs grew fine.
Year three, John moved in, and he gently encouraged me to be more realistic. Aside from too many cucumbers to keep up with, the results continued to be lackluster.
Last year we dug out half the garden beds to put in a rock/paver driveway so that we could nudge our 1969 travel trailer into its new home in our backyard. This year, we invested in a long-term solution for the swath of dirt that had been left behind. John did a bunch of research. We went to a xeriscaping class at Echter's Garden Center. We took notes. We got three loads of mulch to build a berm to provide good drainage for our new flower babies. We planted carefully and thoughtfully. We made approximately 11 trips to various hardware stores to put together a new irrigation system.
It worked. Our new drought-tolerant swath of flowers and grasses is truly a sight to behold. (I behold it most mornings while bathrobed and slippered. As I conduct my morning inspection, the guy across the street renovating his house usually has a wave for me and my bedhead of hair.)
The only other things we grow now? We've limited ourselves to what's proven hearty, and what we've proven to use: herbs, various perennials, and that relocated patch of survivor strawberries.
Once we let go of someone else's dream for our front yard, we finally got somewhere.