Sunday, July 25, 2010

What are the neighbors doing?

I was driving through an older part of Huntsville to show my wife a property whose owners were offering me the opportunity to create an urban farm next to their home. Near the end of the street, we turned around for another look.
A house on the corner lot caught our eye as it was surrounded by curving beds with lots of perennials. Wait! I just saw a tomato plant, why there is okra too. Putting the truck in reverse I eased back to get a better view, sure enough this is a stealth edible landscape. Intermingled among the day lilies and hostas ( which are also edible) and hidden among the ornamental shrubs I saw tomatoes, squash, okra, and herbs, oh my herbs. They weren't easy to see but they were there. Grabbing a business card, I wrote a quick note for permission to take some pictures and ask a few questions. I went to the front door and left it hoping the owners would call me.

Judy Bobula called a few days later and most graciously allowed me the opportunity to visit with her and her husband George, and take a few pictures. The Bobula's primary reason for having the vegetables out front was a lack of light in the back yard. They had tried unsuccessfully to grow vegetables out back but they simply did not have enough hours of sunlight. They created the large perennial bed out front to take up lawn space and provide some flow to the yard, as well as provide balance to a magnificent dogwood out front.

The Bobulas started with crepe myrtles about 4 years ago and have moved several plants several times, growing their front yard garden slowly experimenting and having fun. Often, as beginning gardeners, they had no idea how a plant would adapt to a particular location and the light that spot afforded. The Bobula's have the attitude that if something doesn't work it is OK, and that plant that isn't happy or doesn't look quite right can always be moved or another found to take it's place.

The Bobula's are seeing more folks utilize vegetables and herbs in the landscape as well. Cabbages as ornamentals and Rosemary as a foundation planting are being seen more often. Judy mentioned that the President and First Lady's garden at the White House, the first garden there in over 40 years, has given people permission to plant and enjoy vegetables. George has been most pleased with the okra this year, the soil and light conditions in this years location have combined to give them the best tasting okra they have ever had. One thing they both agreed on was "you don't need as many tomato plants as you think", one year they had seven plants and were giving the excess bounty away on a regular basis.

When asked for advice they also both agreed " start small" and don't be afraid to try a new plant or to place an old favorite in an unconventional place.

1 comment:

  1. Yay! I love sticking vegies in my flower beds. I have artichokes, cauliflower, broccoli and various herbs currently masquerading at ornamentals. I would love to dig up our entire front yard and plant it chock full of things I can harvest, eat and preserve.