Once in a while, in the midst of ordinary life, beauty jumps right out and grabs me. Recently I was driving in a nearby neighborhood, when I glanced across the street at a wonderfully happy garden. The arched cow panel trellises grabbed my attention (I have been searching Houston for cow panel), so I crossed the street, and marched up to the persimmon colored front door, and reached out to ring the bell before I chickened out.
I'm so glad I did. Behind the door I met Franny, a garden enthusiast, and instead of closing the door in my face, she stopped whatever she was doing to come out to give me a tour of her garden, and agreed to let me come back and photograph it to share with you. I feel I have to make the discalimer that I am no great photographer, and these pics won't be winning any awards, but I wanted you all to see what can be achieved in a fruitful and joyous garden in a regular American suburban block.
The summer border gracing the front of the house is grounded with okra plants which are in the hibiscus family, have a stunning leaf, and may even boast a purple stem and fruit. Their flowers are lovely and so they make a good ornamental plant in a garden design, as well as providing a crop. For me, the real show-stopper in this border is the cotton. Can you spot it?
I'm sure other gardeners can relate to the giddy excitement I felt as Franny plucked several bols of cotton for me to take home to try my hand at growing!
The front yard garden features three raised beds with the aforementioned cow panel arches supporting beans, tomatoes, and other tall growers. She has a mix of late summer and autumn plantings, and has the raised beds fitted with a drip irrigation system on a timer, and she also catches rainwater off the roof in a tank near the raised beds. These are the kind of nuts and bolts inclusions that gardeners really get excited about. (Tell me I'm not the only one!)
One of my favorite elements was this postbox, fixed to the edge of the bed for gloves, tools, and that random packet of seeds. How clever.
The other thing I loved down this end of the garden was a pairing of a pomegranate against a grapefruit. The reddening poms against the green globes were just stunning.
Franny's garden sits on a corner block, which turns many gardeners off as there are often city easements and restrictions limiting your growing space. Franny has actually done something really wonderful with her corner, turning it into a welcoming place where you can imagine neighbors stopping for a chat and a drink.
A stone patio wraps around a fig in fruit, and potted citrus lend some height. A variety of seating provides a place to settle in with a book. Perhaps one found in the Little Free Library (Take a Book, Leave a Book)?
In the back yard, Franny's love of happy colors is really on display with yellows, reds, and oranges popping against the turquose pool. I was tempted to "trip" headfirst into the water, but I didn't.
Franny and I had a good laugh at the lengths to which she goes to get a good bucket of chicken or cow manure. While new mothers have a reputation for being poo obsessed, I reckon gardeners are equally so. We all have a corner in the potting shed or garage filled with this and that miracle additive to make our soil better.
After showing me her garden, Franny sent me home with some new seeds to try, as well as two cover crops to try on my dense, clay soil. Groundhog Daikon Radish, and Crimson Clover. My bols of cotton are proudly displayed on a cake stand in the center of my benchtop.
But do you want to know the best part of the story? When I emailed Franny to coordinate a time to come take pictures, she casually mentioned her sister in Nashville...who turns out to be one of my friends! When we were planning this move to Houston, my Nashville friend consulted her sisters in Texas for recommendations on neighborhoods. Over a year before I gathered the courage to approach Franny's door, she had already helped my family in our move.
Isn't life amazing?
So, the moral to my story is, next time you see something beautiful, stop and admire it. Be brave to approach someone. You never know what it may lead to!
Tell me, have you ever approached someone out of the blue like this? Do you have a good story to share? Please do!