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Plants and Design

What Would Eve Do: Reviving A Neglected Garden

Tidy. How's that for a design principle? Not what you'd call imaginative or inspired. But after seven years of delicious chaos in my cramscaped (vs landscaped) front garden — a 25'x50' space where spikey, fragrant, towering and flowering species continue to duke it out — all I wanted from the side yard was an absence, not a presence. I wanted as few plants in the ground as possible and a hardscape the dogs could neither upset nor track into the house.

A brief June moment in a corner of my front garden, a bonafide sanctuary yards away from a boisterous, energetic and commercially "complicated" street (drugs, prostitution and a wholesome family-style brew pub). I know it's all out there on the other side of the fence, but in here, the only reality is color, texture and movement. Plus occasional energetic bouts of whacking it all back. photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

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photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

Every piece of property has its challenges, whether it's the soil, the neighbor's barking beagle or water-sucking, shallow-rooted trees. Mine is urban density, which has only gotten more intense since I moved in. A few years ago, my peace of mind went right out the window when a cafe opened round the block, its big draw a lot of outdoor seating which instantly put drinking, smoking strangers inches away from my back door.

Come 5pm weekdays and all day Sat & Sun, as many as 40 people with endlessly cloying good cheer would drive me to distraction. (In truth, to tears). I found myself becoming a disgruntled old biddy who scowled, unobserved on the other side of a 10' fence, wishing misery on their good time. Gardening out there was limited to weekend mornings before noon; once the Young People arrived, the noise was such I could no longer keep the windows open in the house.

By last spring, I had to do something: move, or throw money at a solution. I decided to stay put and create thundering, ambient sound.

Proving, yet again, that necessity really is the mother of invention, behold a whole lotta "taking back my space" nearly deafening noise. photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR hide caption

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photo credit: Ketzel Levine, NPR

Tomorrow's installment of What Would Eve Do: creating a 12' wide, 7' tall fountain without even a sketch of a plan...AND...the leftover ruined yard.