Front garden creates a community


the little apple tree

“Je bent eten aan het verspillen.”

Our neighbor, someone we’d never talked to but had seen walking his dog by our house every evening, stopped abruptly one day to scold my husband for wasting food. Our front-garden broccoli crop, once promising little broccoli heads, had grown yellow and overripe. We’d waited too long. I was inside during the scolding, but I took it to heart as I lurked near an open window. I’d started a garden with good intentions, but I had neglected the harvest (kind of the point of the whole endeavor).

The scolding was the start of a neighborly friendship. We learned he’d been a farmer years before and was delighted to see a veggie patch on our city street. He talks to us so enthusiastically about plants that he completely ignores his dog playing tug of war with his leash. Our tomato plants went wild a few weeks back, and he advised us to pick off leaves around the tomato buds to give them more sunlight. We told him to feel free to do the same as he walked by, and once they were ripe, to harvest what he wanted. Since then, someone has been taking good care of them.

A few weeks after that encounter, a neighbor lady stopped by to admire our garden, not hesitating to point out that our rhododendrons had clearly been neglected of water. She stuck around for at least a half hour to talk about slugs and this year’s flower-scorching summer. When she learned I was American, we discussed travelling abroad and all the places we’d been to.

Our neighbors across the street gave us an apple tree last year, which we planted as the centerpiece of our little garden. I planted wall flowers and fox gloves at its base to help it along, and it’s doing wonderfully, although still too young to grow fruit.

Our garden is creating connections. It’s bringing our neighbors out for a chat in the sun or as part of their evening walk with the pooch.

I like that.

Related posts:

Less is more.
Permaculture principle two: catching and storing energy
Permaculture principle one: observe and interact
Nature brings me back to myself


  1. Sometimes while walking around our neighborhood, I’ll stop to chat with somebody who’s tending a garden. And sometimes, since we hadn’t previously met, they’ll mention a garden down the street or around the corner “you should really see.” I then have to smile and admit it’s ours. Not that we think our is that impressive. But the perspective helps, as you’ve been discovering.
    Neighborhood, eh?

  2. It’s really nice to have a garden others appreciate, and I’m happy yours is as well! I also notice that I spend a lot of time looking at the other gardens around us, something I never really noticed when I was younger. It’s really fun to see people’s creativity expressed in different ways! Do you grow mostly flowers or a combo of both veg and flower?

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