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In a recent email from Wayne Winterrowd he commented on a visit to our property shortly after we moved in: “I LOVED the fact that you were putting your vegetable garden in the front lawn!”

When Wayne visited, the slope between the front of the house and the road had been cleared but was still in the planning stages. We had no choice but to place our vegetable garden and wood shed in this area. We are on a pond, and local zoning dictates that no structures can be built within 300 feet of the water’s edge. These same regulations state that no animal manures be used in this area. No shed, fence, or manure…clearly our vegetable garden needed to go elsewhere. Which took us to the front of our house.

It has long been the fashion for the front of American homes to be a tidy lawn-and-foundation-planting landscape, with, perhaps, a few specimen trees thrown into the mix. In the past twenty years, however, styles have begun to change. There have been a few books on front-yard flower gardens, and the interest in replacing lawns has led to other approaches in between house and street.

Putting the most utilitarian part of the landscape out front is, perhaps, the next step, or at least an accepted option. This reminds me of the 1970’s when I used to listen to Paul Gorman on WBAI in New York. Paul would sometimes talk about the concept of complete transparency…the idea that if everyone knew the worst about everyone else we would all be free. He would say, “After all, it’s only us here.”

Yes, we’re all bozos on this bus, although I’m not sure I want to know the worst about everyone. Too much information. And I don’t really want to see junk cars or garbage in my or my neighbor’s front yard. I want my veggie garden to be beautiful as well as functional, and this spring I’ll plant shrubs and perennials around the shed my husband built.

I want form and function to be equal partners on Poison Ivy Acres. It should be beautiful and it should work well. Isn’t this what we want in our lives as well as on our properties?

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