Front yard vegetable patches make food, but some gardens rile the neighbors

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One tomato plant at a time equates to one step at a time in a growing new movement of front yard vegetable patches. Yes, people are getting on board with the idea that one can actually grow food in their own yard and growing it in their front yard sends a message. Instead of all the work and chemicals to maintain a home and garden magazine type yard, one can grow their own food and still have a beautiful ‘growing’ front yard. What constitutes what is beautiful is in the eye of the beholder anyway, so who says that a perfect, green front lawn equates to the only kind of beauty a homeowner can share?

In this time of heightening awareness of sustainability, environmental concerns, global warming, ‘green’ living, I am pleased to see the return of something resembling the ‘Victory Garden’ of WW II era. Another time when this country was at ‘war’, although, I don’t subscribe to the invasion/occupation of Iraq as a ‘just war’, our troops are deployed in combat in wartime.

We chose to move away from urbania and don’t live in a cul de sac of well tended front lawns and landscaping, so I can appreciate that it is a courageous step for people who do live in those kind of ‘traditional’ neighborhoods to shift to planting vegetables in the front yard instead of trying to grow the perfect grass lawn edged by the perfect compliment of landscaped specimens.

The article mentions how neighbor concerns are met with compromise in growing vegetables in attractive ways that don’t detract. Fitting vegetables in among traditional landscaping can be done in such a way as to enhance both. I’m not sure it has to be one way or the other but a compliment of both ways. I saw a home where the front yard had been converted into raised bed gardening and it was quite attractive in a geometric kind of way.

I recently claimed a bit of our front yard to make a combination new flower and vegetable bed. I then claimed a piece along the side for more vegetables. This in addition to my actual kitchen vegetable garden which, btw, I plan to double or triple in size over the coming years. Now I will even plant a tomato plant or maybe a squash in the flower bed that faces the street as my own proud statement to the neighbors, although my neighbors where I live don’t require such a statement, they aren’t too likely to complain if I turn my entire yard into a vegetable garden and orchard.

Do it – make a statement, plant one vegetable in your front yard and then two and maybe you too will want to rip out your front lawn and grown vegetables instead.

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Update – Yard and Garden – July 15, 2007

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Update – July 15, 2007

Vegetable Garden; doing well enough.

Progress of seeds I planted;
— Corn plants are looking now like corn you see in corn fields.
— Beans, coming along, not too impressive yet
— Squash – zucchini doing okay; yellow summer squash doing okay; acorn squash planted late but they started then failed overnight one night (slugs?? or was it because I decided to fertilize and the acorn squash plants were too new to take being fertilized.
— Cucumbers – well, there are plants, but it’s not too impressive yet.
— Beets have popped up and are shaping out nicely. Note; beets seem to do well here.
— Radishes planted and harvested already, much less nibbling by critters this year.
— Elephant Garlic is doing quite well but can’t tell till I harvest the bulbs.
— Garlic (normal size) seem to be doing okay, can’t see any flowering though. The transplants at the back of the house failed.
— Pumpkins – only one or two, the rest failed.
— Green, Red, Jalapeno peppers – failed
— Dill – failed
— Carrots – two plants growing – the rest I accidentally stepped on when they were newly coming up and they were damaged, okay ruined.

Progress of transplants from garden center;
— bib and red lettuce – okay and growing well. Note; red lettuce adds color to the green garden. Use again!
— spinach – failed.
— tomato plants – doing well, one plant has tomato forming.
— pepper plants – seemd to be doing okay.
— cucumber plants – hard to tell, still so compact and small.
— pumpkin plant – slow but growing.
— onions – doing okay. Separated each bulb and planted 2 batch crops in garden.
Newly planted vegetable bed by front door;
After Sweetie recreated the entrance area at the front door in front yard, he created a new bed for planting. This year I wanted to use it for more vegetables. Since it is strictly clay, I needed to amend it with compost and top soil, before planting anything. It is too late in the season to plant seeds, so I picked up some vegetable plants at the garden center at our one and only department store in the region — Dennis Company. I’m grateful they carry vegetables, herbs, flowers favorable to our climate and area. It makes for a somewhat limited line to choose from, and it’s about 75/25 that what I buy will do well in my yard.

— Squash – flying wheels squash (looks interesting on the label!) – 1 plant.
— Squash – hubbard squash – 2 plants.
— Squash – acorn squash – 2 plants.
— Peppers – varieties – jalapeno – 2 plants, pimento – 2 plants, green – 2 plants

When Sweetie began this project he finished up another project at the other corner of front yard, bricking in and squaring off that corner. I had started last year to create a tiered flower garden effect to replace the brick step tiers he took out. We discovered in our digging that PO had apparantly tried to create about 4 steps, using bricks, from the garage up to the front yard. Over the years, it got buried, so we found a treasure of bricks and attempted to make it workable. It wasn’t too workable, which is probably why it got overgrown in the first place.

He took the bricks to use elsewhere, and that left the tiered effect, which I was prepared to design into a tiered flower garden. I started with some plants late last growing season, and they hadn’t much chance of setting up in their new places, so when he decided to change the corner, the plants were amenable to being transplanted.

I’m not real sure now what those plants are by name, so I’ll have to backtrack and see what I blogged last year. One is hellebos, and three others to be identified.

Deersong

First summer in our ‘new’ home – garden journal entry – August 2003

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August 2003

Our first summer in the house we are buying. It comes with some already mature landscaping. Noteably the front yard has the 90 + year old Monkey Puzzle Tree. But it is showing it’s age now, and appears more brown than green.

The first year here I asked our neighbor to cut off the lower branches. Since the tree was planted on a corner where 2 streets intersect, it made for poor visibility and our neighbor was happy to open up that space to help prevent accidents for cars trying to make the turn. I learned something though; dear hubby was heartbroken at the trim job on that tree. Seems he had already developed a fondness and ownership of that historical tree.
(unable to properly format the post – to see, click on date at top of this post to see at my original blog)
Deersong

Barn Swallows – Oh No! I like them though, welcome at our home. Vegetable gardening journal

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May 4, 2005

Iris is blooming and gorgeous. My mother gave me these from her garden after she thinned hers last season and I got them planted in my yard last year. It was not the season for them to bloom, and they were fairly straggly. I cut them in fan shape as my mother recommended and sort of just crossed my fingers and hoped they might take to their new home.

(snipped – was unable to format it properly.  To view, click on date at top of post, will take you to my original blog posting).
Listing postings by dates that will not format to this new blog properly – click on the dates shown to see  postings at my original blog)
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Pruning and Trimming, Yard and Vegetable garden

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Giving the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree a much-needed trim and setting out some of those early spring primroses and pansies launched us into our spring clean-up. After the winds and rains of winter, our yard looks strewn with debris and left-over projects undone from the end of last fall.

So, getting the planting station in the carport ready for a new spring workout, we got the area cleaned out. Since we tore out the carpet in the main floor of the house, it had been taken outside to the temporary place under the carport. Husband got it all hauled out and loaded into his little pick-up to go to the local landfill. Swept out the winter leaves, and tidied up the area. Found grandchildren’s toys from last August when the family stayed with us….ahhhh, miss them all so much.

Pruned up the wild fushia bush and took down it’s height. That and a hefty pruning of the Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree and we have some serious burn-barrel fires in store. Maybe our neighbor will be as accomodating as last year and haul it to his burn pile for disposal. First spring lawn mowing done. General clean up in the yard and it is already looking much better – ready for spring and new projects.

The kitchen vegetable garden needs tilling and new plantings and I’d like to expand the vegetable garden this year. My vision of it requires more back-breaking labor than either of us really want to expend, so looking for some easy short cuts to make more raised beds for growing more vegetables. I’d like to try the upside down tomatoes this year. I also thought of getting several half whiskey barrels and planting in them.

I’ve taken on gardening as a leisurely hobby, outdoor exercise and that great feeling of being connected to nature. But I’ve wanted to get serious about my kitchen vegetable garden as a means of producing some of our food. I’ll NEVER want to learn how to do canning thought, but I’m receptive to the art of ‘freezing’ what I can of the harvest.

We had a small windfall of a bit of extra $$, so I went out to the garden store where I spent 4 hours just looking at every item; envisioning my entire spring and summer and what I could do; then did a reality check and made a list of what I most wanted right now that would fit the small bonus $$ amount. In my mind I spent several hundred $$ but my reality was quite different than my mental shopping spree. In my mind I had lined up to buy 3 trees, 4 bushes, a new wrought iron with canopy outside room, redwood patio set, water fountain gardens for several places in the yard, trellises, wheelbarrow, electric roto-tiller, red lava rock, mulching, mini-greenhouses in several sizes, several more whiskey barrel planters and hundreds of packets of seeds, bulbs and tubers. WoW – had a great time imagining all I could buy….but the few 20 dollar bills in my wallet just wouldn’t stretch that far.

With carefully pruning away my mental shopping, I made a list of what I could buy with my real available dollars. I bought pruning shears (boring), potting soil (boring), seed packets (fun – but I had to put about 50 packets back – over my budget), a new tree = Mt Fuji white cherry, the usual assortment of primroses, pansies, and a few other 2′ starter flowers, and I found 3 summer tops at price I couldn’t resist so I treated myself.

It was time to refer back to my Wee Garden website and update it some, and I learned something about the climate zone where I live in Pacific coastal area. It’s not zone 8 like the gardening books and USDA climate zone tell me; it’s zone 5 because of the Pacific winds and climate zone. Well, the good news is that with zone 5, the last frost is later than zone 8, so the planting season is later. Might explain why all the seeds I’ve started for the last 3 years don’t seem to germinate. I need to start them later and actually create a greenhouse environment for them of heat, light and moisture. Forget tomatoes, no way in the climate zone I’m in with short, short hot season can I grow them from seed. Sounds like my instincts to buy starter vegetable plants from the nursery is well-founded.

Now where’s those grand-darlings to help me with my yard. They really were very helpful and willing workers with the taskings of the yard. Emily hauling off sod to the back, Drew using the big person shovel to dig a hole, their fascination with the worms when we turned the soil…..ahhhhh, I need my families to live closer. All this training them towards their own independence and they are all making their own lives their own way in different parts of the country. I miss them all. I always wanted to own acerage that would allow for building several homes in one place and having family close by but I’m also wanting mostly that they flourish in their own lives.

Deersong

Specimen Acquisitions for our yard

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2006 Spring/Summer season

Using this space to list plants purchased this year -2006;

– Eastern Snowball (bush/shrub) front yard

– Mugho Pine (2) Pumilio mugo pine front raised bed

– Hosta (Honeybells) side flower bed

– Achilbe (2) lower shaded rock garden and new wheelbarrow garden under maple tree

– Poker Plant lower shaded rock garden

– Coral Bells – Lilly of the Valley lower shaded rock garden

– Elephant ear lower shaded rock garden

– Primrose Beauty – Potentilla Futicosa (evergreen shrub/bush – creamy yellow flowers) upper sunny rock garden

– Rock Rose (evergreen shrub/bush) upper sunny rock garden

– Dwarf Periwinkle (evergreen perennial ground cover) upper sunny rock garden meant to trail down by fenceline

– Little Princess Spirea (shrub/bush)

– Hebe (check variety – tag said ‘la favourite’

– Rubus – Emerald Carpet (ground cover – part shade)

– Sedum Gracile (evergreen w/ white flowers, red in summer)

– Nordic Holly (sun – sedum?)

– Southernwood Artemisia Abrotanum (sun, bitter lemon leaves, use in vinegar and salads)

– Sedum Aizoon (yellow flowers 10″ long)

– Wormwood Artemisia – Oriental Limelight (sun 3-4′ tall)

– Ice Plant (succulent purple/pink flowers ground cover) upper rock garden

– Cardinal Flower (perennial, part shade, poisonous)

– Verbena – Homestead Purple (spreading perennial, sun) upper rock garden

– curly grass (name not known, twisty, curly grass like plant)

– Guardian Delphinium (slugs ate it)

– Coleus – three varieties

– Hibiscus – Luna Red (2) (perennial) front window bed

– Sedum – Autumn Joy (2, one in 2005, one in 2006) upper rock garden

– Tree Mallow (evergreen perennial shade, delicate everblooming pink flowers) new shade garden in wheelbarrow under maple tree

– Bleeding Heart (bush) new shade garden in wheelbarrow under maple tree

– Close out nursery sale – Grayland – scented geraniums, peppermint, orange thyme, asters and ? = planted in white stemmed flower pots

– Geraniums (3) in rose pink shades, (4) in gold and rust shades

– Heather (3) upper rock garden, and two in camellia flower bed border

– Spring/Autumn Heather (4) whiskey barrel, indoors, and 2 in camellia flower bed border

– new whiskey barrel = Eucalyptus tree; foxglove; heather; beach transplants; yellow oriental poppy, spring heather

– new whisky barrel – upright = sedums, and surrounded on sides – need central core plant specimens and then extend this part of the growing out of barrell garden into grass yard.

– Eucalyptus tree – front yard

– Rose of Sharon – 5 dry root plants from Mom – not seeing anything

– Pussywillow tree propagation from Mom seems to have taken. She calls it pussywillow tree = ?

– Propagate experiments this year didn’t work out using the root cutting formula. 2 Cotton lavender propagates seems to have taken.

– Lilac tree; lost two trunks over winter and new sturdy trunk is growing up from center

– Fuschia bush cut back severely and did not suffer – can be cut back severely annually

– vegetable garden was a bust this year – slugs!!! Ate 3 plantings of seeds = zuchinni, cucumbers, squash. Beets grew well and big this year. Tomato plants did well enough. Peas and carrots did well enough. Problem = old seeds and driest summer on record with no rain.

– Comfrey/borage planted 3 yrs ago continues to return annually. This year popped up everywhere inside vegetable garden bed and rock garden. Research = these are invasive and impossible to totally rid – underground root spreading system

– Japanese flowering cherry (upright) white blooms

– hybrid – 3 varieties Apple tree

Deersong

Harry Lauder Walking Stick Tree (bush) or Contorted Hazelnut – Corylus avellana L. ‘Contorta’

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2005 – Our Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree – mature specimen – 15-20 yrs old

Harry Lauder Walking Stick
CONTORTED HAZELNUT
Corylus avellana L. ‘Contorta’

This unusual European hazelnut was found around 1850 growing in a hedgerow in England. It has been propagated by cuttings and grafting ever since. The plant has become commonly known as “Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick” or “Contorted Hazelnut.”

The stems and leaves naturally twist and turn as they grow. The plant would normally grow as a sprawling bush, but if it is grafted onto a 4 ft. tall upright stock (Corylus colurna L. is a good non-suckering rootstock) it forms a very ornamental specimen tree.

Walking Stick : This shrub reaches a height of 8′-10′, with a similar spread. The flowers of Harry Lauder’s walking stick are yellowish-brown “catkins,” as on pussy willows. The blooms appear in early to middle spring. However, this shrub is not grown primarily for its blooms but for its unusual branching pattern, which is indicated by its other common names: corkscrew filbert and contorted hazelnut. For as you can see from the picture, its branches contort themselves in every which way, resembing corkscrews.

Sun and Soil Requirements for Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick : Grow Harry Lauder’s walking stick in well-drained soil, in full sun to part shade.

Care of Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick: Being a grafted shrub, Harry Lauder’s walking stick does require some special care. The rootstock is Corylus colurna. As often happens with grafted plants, there is a tendency for suckers to shoot up from the rootstock. You must prune off these suckers so that the plant does not revert to the characteristics of its rootstock.

How Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick Got Its Name: According to Adele Kleine of “Flower and Garden Magazine,” the shrub’s “appealing common name derives from the old Scottish comedian Harry Lauder who performed using a crooked branch as a cane.”

Uses for Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick in Landscape Design: Harry Lauder’s walking stick is a specimen plant. The corkscrew shape of its branches lends much-needed visual interest to the winter landscape.

More on Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick: Harry Lauder’s walking stick is a case in which one may rightly claim that a deciduous shrub truly comes into its own only after its leaves have fallen. Not that the shrub isn’t attractive when fully leafed out. But the eye is especially drawn to this curious specimen in winter, when many other deciduous trees and shrubs are little better than sad reminders of a defunct fall and summer.

our dog, Jake (an Australian shepherd – collie mix),
lays under our Harry Lauder Walking Stick tree – 2005

What is Harry Lauder’s walking stick?

By Chelsie Vandaveer

March 11, 2005

At one time, shrubs and trees were planted to separate fields or fields from roads. These hedgerows divided land in a gracious, idyllic way. They were a mix of useful plants neighbors could share—willows for basketry, berries and nuts. A modicum of maintenance kept the hedgerow, a hedgerow. Wildflowers grew there; birds and small animals had refuge in the midst of cultivated lands. The hedgerow stayed the same and yet it changed with the seasons and the passing of the years.

Sometime in the early 1860s, a curious shrub was noticed growing in a hedgerow in Gloucestershire. It was hazel like the hazels (Corylus avellana Linnaeus) that people had cultivated for hundreds of years. But it was different, its branches twisted and corkscrewed and wept. Not many years after the discovery of the contorted hazel, a boy was born at the north

His father died when Harry Lauder was twelve. He helped his mother support his seven siblings by working in a flax mill while he went to school. Later he worked in a coal mine and it must have been difficult to see the stars when one is in ‘the pit’. But he clung to his dream—someday he would be a music hall entertainer.

Harry mixed comedy with music and made laughable, yet touchingly lovable characters for his songs—the stodgy Dame, the red-nosed slovenly Calligan, the kilted tight-fisted Roderick McSwankay.

By 1912, Harry was at the top. He was elected to the Rotary Club of Glasgow and his fame spread beyond England. In 1913, he entertained in America; in 1914, he was in Australia. While in Melbourne, the British Empire entered World War I. Harry’s son, John left his father’s tour and went to war.

Harry, too old to be a soldier, mobilized to do what he could do best, entertain. And entertain he did. Realizing that those soldiers and sailors maimed by the war would be left in poverty, Harry raised huge sums of money for their pensions. Then Harry did something crazy and the war office fought him on the very idea of it all. He took entertainment to the trenches and battlefields of France.

Harry and Ann never saw their son John alive again. In 1919, Harry was knighted for his charitable works. When World War II broke out, he launched himself into another round of entertaining the troops and raising funds. Harry Lauder died in 1950. Few alive today have even heard his name, but entertainers have kept alive the tradition he started—laughter and songs for soldiers and sailors far from home.

It was Harry’s wild character, Roderick McSwankay that made the hazel famous. The decked-out Scotsman leaned on an equally crazy hazelwood cane. The shrub became known as Harry Lauder’s walking stick.

our much mature Harry Lauder Walking Stick Tree

Deersong