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Sammy’s Mountain, Gardens & Community

October 3rd, 2010 by Alison · 1 Comment · community, home & garden, nature, relationships

Our driveway has a vast hill of fertile dirt in it because we are finally building a garden, having spurned the lawn our builder offered to put in for us. We’ve named this temporary geographical feature Sammy’s Mountain because our neighbor Sammy (short for Samantha) loves to climb it and survey our neighborhood from the top of it.

Sammy is in second grade and is excited about being a cop for Halloween. She modeled her costume for us last night, standing proud and smart with her badge, plastic handcuffs and billy stick, everything miniaturized yet convincing. Sammy’s 12 year old sister Jackie will be a honeybee for Halloween. Her black and gold costume has graceful wings and bobbing antennae, and she modeled for us from the top of Sammy’s Mountain, drawing Thor’s and my appreciative applause.

We were sipping cold drinks on the front porch, resting after spending much of the day trundling wheelbarrows full of  Sammy’s Mountain to different parts of our property. Why are we laboring at building a garden rather than having a lawn? Biodiversity, community and beauty, to sum it up in three words.

Shortly after we moved in last June 19, we built two raised beds out in front (partly so that our new neighbors wouldn’t survey all the bare dirt surrounding our house and worry that we were deadbeats). More than a dozen plant species are in them, the most colorful right now being the anise hyssop, sporting lots of spiky purple flowers that draw and nourish bees. Bees are in alarming decline, and lawns do nothing to support their dwindling colonies. Gardens support biodiversity.

A pedestrian path lies to the east of our house, and actually got installed at the same time our house was built, as a condition of its construction ((we have an ‘infill’ house, a result of a long lot being divided into two). While lots of local folks stroll on this path, both research and common sense show that greenery, flowers and such lining that path will encourage more pedestrians, more community. Already these neighborhood strollers stop to express appreciation that we’re building a garden along this path. Neighbors that talk to each other build community, and the more people who are out and about connecting with each other make a neighborhood safer, and also happier.

Finally, beauty. Gardens feed our spirits because they are rich and beautiful. We humans are only one of the multitude of species that share this planet. We tend to think we’re the kings of the hill, the way that Sammy loves to stand on top of her mountain of fertile dirt. But that’s just one of our illusions . . . the same way that Sammy’s Mountain will soon disappear. And Sammy will accept that just fine, because it will have been transformed into a garden that will intrigue, entertain and even feed her with strawberries and blueberries.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • TinaPete

    Anise hyssop makes great tea, just dry the stems hanging upside down, harvest the leaves and enjoy.

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