Wednesday, June 24, 2009


When I bought my first home (another blue bungalow in a different city) I became, at the age of 23, an instant garden enthusiast. I wanted to take the weedy, densely shaded backyard I had in my hands and turn it into a sanctuary. Beauty was my number one objective, and I spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over the course of five years on perennials, mulch, ponding gear, and all sorts of other things to make the yard beautiful.

Several years and three children later, with a sunnier yard at my disposal, and with an energy crisis and global climate change upon us, I have focused almost exclusively on growing edibles. Beauty is still an objective, but it has been knocked down a few pegs on my gardening priority list as I hyper focus on growing things that are practical and useful.

Having said that, today I was able to visit the lovely Monches Farm in Colgate, WI, where my mother-in-law bought me an early birthday present: ornamental perennials to fill some empty spaces in my front yard. The very helpful horticulturalist at Monches introduced me to a new (to me) kind of perennial that I think I'm going to love: Coral Bells.

I came home with six new baby plants: two variegated purple and silver coral bells, two bright, lime green and yellow coral bells, and two containers of "blood grass," a shorter ornamental grass with blades of burgundy and green. The blood grass ties the other two plants together nicely. Here are some pictures, taken after sunset with my flash:

There is something so important about creating a beautiful space in which to live. Having a lovely yard should motivate a family to stay home and play, rather than look elsewhere for entertainment and fulfillment, wasting fuel in the process. I'd say that makes ornamentals pretty practical!

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