Friday, June 9, 2017

My Favorite Garden, Vietnamese-Style

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.


Lisa said...

The roses look like David Austin roses to me. What a wonderful and ingenious set up! I can see why you're drawn to it; it tells of great love and care.

sk said...

I love your writing--and your perspective.

Alica said...

A gorgeous garden! Good for you, stepping out of your comfort zone...and who knows...maybe you made his day by asking!

Sara McD said...

This is how my city-living, Sicilian immigrant daddy gardens, using every inch of space and every cast off item to make it work. Though he hasn't much tolerance for purely ornamental plants, it still winds up beautiful.

e said...

Thank you for posting this! I love this garden and the practicality and usefulness behind it. We need more gardens like this, rather than sterile grass plots with regimented flowers and a couple of vegetables. My garden always tends to look a little wild and unkempt and I'm sure some neighbors tut-tut at it. But, I don't care!

I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Polly said...

Those roses are truly inspirational!!

Kay Saylor said...

Love this! I have a mixture of purchased items and repurposed items in my garden. The ones that I love the most are those that I made from what I find in the sheds or garage. A trellis made from a metal crib frame, another from lashed together tree branches, another from half of a discarded wooden ladder, a waddle border my daughter made from sticks, supports from discarded bamboo, even an enamel chamber pot planter. Go for it!

jenny_o said...

I love this post. The pictures are beautiful! And I look forward to seeing what you do for arbors!

Anonymous said...

What an excellent garden! That's the style I aspire to, but my garden is still pretty small. Sometimes the kids join me for treasure hunts in the alley, where I've acquired broken laundry baskets and milk crates to protect baby plants from squirrels, shop vac bottoms as planters (with built-in drainage), and all sorts of things for ersatz tomato cages. And I have a growing collection of discarded windows that I hope will be part of a greenhouse or cold frame someday.


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