Right next to our church is my favorite yard garden. It's a treat to walk by and see what the gardener is up to all year long.
Recently, the gardener himself was out when I walked goggling by. I felt shy, but I told myself that most people who love plants love to talk plants, so I introduced myself and told him how much I love his garden. His face lit up, and he started immediately handing out samples of his many kinds of mint and basil; he's Vietnamese, so his varieties are different from the ones I know and he was explaining which ones are good for what. We had a language barrier for sure, but I did ask him if he minds if I take pictures of his garden and he waved his hand, sure sure, and handed another sprig of mint over the fence.
I returned another day with my camera (feeling shy again, but reminding myself I had permission).
My deep love for this yard is based on the pragmatism and sheer abundance - I love the make-do greenhouse/potting shed built out of old windows as far as I can tell, and the old swingset frame used as a trellis and also a shelter for tender plants. Bottoms from nursery trays turned into fence, all kinds of supports and planters improvised from things most Americans throw away.
Look at the milk-crate edging, the lettuce mixed with flowers, the buckets and improvised shelves. I love the make-do, can-do vibe. And the roses. Oh, the roses!
Their scent is a beautiful as they are because I put my nose in as many as I could, and thought of my grandmother who grew roses in tidy little bushes but this yard has a different tidiness, a different aesthetic from the middle-class American gardens I am accustomed to seeing. It tickles my imagination and makes me bolder in my own gardening efforts. I am hatching some plans for two different arbors at our balcony and porch and I am not thinking small or middle-class, no I am not.