When we bought our house 8 years ago, it had the greenest grass on the street. It was beautiful! I was so excited about having lawns (front and back) that I could walk barefoot through and not worry about sticker-y things attacking my feet. I grew up in the country (no yard), lived in dorms and apartments in college (no yard), and was moving from a house that had
nothing but 6-inch pine needles for ground cover. What I wasn’t planning on was our complete inability to keep a this beautiful lawn alive – we killed that grass in just a few short years.
Because we live in what’s called the “high desert,” it’s popular for people to xeriscape their landscapes to save water. That’s where you use plants that aren’t very thirsty in your yard. You could conceivably end up with a yard full of attack plants (the sharp, pokey ones like yucca), or a yard full of colorful wildflowers. A couple of springs ago I decided to dig up what remaining desperate grass remained and plant wildflowers in half of our yard.
My wildflower experiment was a success. We had half a dozen sunflowers that were taller than our house, pink and orange poppies, red zinnias, and lots of other colorful things whose names I never knew. Strangers would stop and talk to us when we were out doing yardwork. It was a little slice of lawn heaven that lasted for a few months. The next year I ripped out the rest of the pathetic grass, designed and installed an above-ground sprinkler system, and put up a little net fence to keep our hungry neighborhood bunny away from my little green babies. While I didn’t have as many lovely flowers and colors as before, I was still super pleased with my ability to keep these hearty little plants alive.
So this year I decided to get a head start on my summer garden. A couple of weeks ago, the big girls and I started seeds in our garage. Remember the high desert thing? Because we’re in the mountains, we can’t plant stuff outside until after Mother’s Day because of frost. Want to see the beginnings of our colorful flower garden?
Those tall, gangly dudes in the center are the sunflowers. I think they’re not going to last another 4-ish weeks in the egg carton planters. Their roots are already peeking out of the bottoms, so they’ll get housing upgrades today – maybe peat pots for them.
The ones I’m most excited about are the ones on the top left beside the barren 18-hole carton. Those are Bluebonnets – the state flower of Texas. I grew up in the Texas Panhandle, an environment too harsh for those little beauties, but I learned about them in school. I specifically remember twisting little blue squares of tissue paper around my pencil eraser, dipping the flat end into glue, and placing the little wad of sticky blue mess onto a mimeographed outline of a bluebonnet. That was as close to a bluebonnet as I got until I went to college in south Texas.
I understood then why the bluebonnet was our state flower. Whole fields that were normally green turned into something that more closely resembled an ocean. The thing to do was to find a relatively undisturbed patch and take spring pictures among the little blue flowers. A couple of years ago, we did a family portrait out in the bluebonnets over our spring break trip to Texas. It’s illegal to pick bluebonnets in Texas, and I think I might make that law apply to our front yard as well. As you might be able to see, I only have 4 or 5 growing right now.
So this is our front yard as of this morning. What little green you see there are volunteers from last year. And the tulips are still hanging on from the previous owner’s efforts. I’m not super-crafty, or clever with my recipes, or helpful with tips about raising kids, nor can I keep a yard of grass alive. But lemme tell ya – I can grow wildflowers! (Please no nay-sayers telling me that my wildflowers are just glorified weeds. Let me have my moment of triumph.)
What’s up in your yard?