How I Garden

or "I leave my lawn unmowed for very good reason"

The first year we moved into our house, we were still thinking with a 'renter' mentality. Buying a shovel was a last minute affair, which happened only hours before friends were due to come over and help us move. The motivation? We realized that if we didn't shovel the walk, our stuff couldn't get into the house. Not mowing the lawn was a similar story. We didn't have a mower. So we put off buying one. Okay, I put off buying one.

And something interesting happened. If I had thought about it at all, which I really didn't, I would probably have predicted that not mowing the lawn would result in long grass. But apparently not mowing the lawn right away in spring has other potential effects. Things show up.

I call them 'things' because they were obviously not grass. They looked liked they belonged ... well, like they should belong somewhere. So I arbitrarily designated an area in the front yard 'a garden', and moved some of them. My husband thought it was weird, but endearing (which is his reaction to a lot of things that I do). So they grew. Occasionally he'd point at one of the 'things' and ask if I had any idea what it was. I didn't, but whatever it was it was doing well. It was getting tall. He'd chuckle, and we'd walk on.

Then fall came. It branched out. Then it made buds. Excitedly, I said "I think it's a flower!" Unimpressed, he pointed out that most weeds made buds too. So we waited. And one evening as we came home from a road trip, we saw what looked like luminous something, where I had planted the 'things'. As we got closer, we could see that they had bloomed into eye-catching violet flowers. In the dim evening light they seemed to glow. They were beautiful. All the waiting, all the moving and watering and wondering was worth it.

Eventually I found out that they were called New England Asters. Since that first year, I've gotten more asters, sunflowers, black-eyed susans, purple and white phlox, violets, Bull Thistle (nasty to step on, but they attract goldfinches, so in our estimation they are eminently worth it), Echinacia, and most recently some interesting cute little thing with round red leaves and long thin thorns. I have no idea what it is, but it's doing pretty well.

Next year I plan on waiting until July to mow my lawn.

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