Grey Gardening

For years a growing trend in front yards has been to do away with most of the soil and just leave a few plants as focal points. It appears tidy, means a lot less work for the gardener, and looks terrible. I guess the house owners in the above picture thought so too so they started dotting plant pots around to make it a bit greener.

This garden architecture has come under severe criticism in the last few years not just for aesthetic reasons but because it is an ecological disaster for insects and other small creatures. As a results some communities have started to fine these “gardens of death” as they have come to be called, others have started incentive schemes to encourage people to revert their yards into green oases amongst grey streets and buildings.

This home owner in our neighbourhood is obviously not amongst the converted yet. He has taken the concept a step further and dotted his pebble desert not with plants but with rocks and metal ornaments. So much so that I looked around for a sign, thinking that maybe they were selling them. Some are actually not ugly taken by themselves, and could be a feature in a green garden but in this abundance they are just ugly as hell.

One Word Sunday: Ugly.

17 thoughts on “Grey Gardening

  1. It depends on where you live. Here in the Phoenix area, where we live in a desert environment, keeping a green yard means planting grass and other plants the don’t naturally grow here and using vast quantities of water to keep them green and growing where water is at a premium. Natural yards here include all sorts of desert plants and the space between them is covered with rocks. It can look quite beautiful. 🙂


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    1. I agree that it may be different in other parts of the world. But here in Germany we have the problem that bees do not find enough food nor do solitary living bees (and other insects) find enough shelter because everything is covered in smooth concrete. There are incentive schemes for farmers to re-instate wildflower strips and verges rather than have huge uninterrupted fields. I’ve been trying for two years to convert at least part of our lawn into a flower meadow with mediocre success so far. But even my less than perfect attempts draw a vast array of bees and other insects.

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      1. I agree that in most places it makes perfect sense. The desert dweller has to go in different directions, but native plants such as cacti also attract bees, hummingbirds, and the like without using too much water.

        I like it when along the highways there are lots of wildflowers or other native plants.

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  2. A great interpretation of ugly, Elke. The lack of thought for our environment is definite ugliness. My lawn is a mess, and I have finally given up on attempts to make it perfect and enjoy the moss, clover and their friends! Though I wasn’t so pleased when I got stung on the toe by a bee – incredibly painful but I fear the bee suffered more than me. I live just a few minutes from the M25 but I have found that a bit of effort has brought much insect and bird life to my small garden 🙂

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  3. I can see both sides. We are approaching our golden years and after cervical spine surgery I am trying to make the yard easier to maintain. Our side and back yard have been a mess with shade where grass won’t grow and we love having fires in the evening. I devided my husband’s mothers lilac bush and put in a hedge row for privacy, built a 10ft. by 12 ft. greenhouse and then filled a large portion of the yard with stone. This area has 2 patios and a fire pit, 2 large sugar maple trees and a round rock garden with daffodils, false Soliman’s seal, and yucca. The flower beds around the house were taken up. I got the best tip ever from a lady down the road. She suggested putting down plastic and rock. You then get duplicates of large pots. Cut a hole in the plastic big enough for the pot to set in and put your first pot in the ground. Then plant the second pot and drop it in the first pot. The pots I have done so far have 3 daffodil bulbs in the bottom Irises on top and I will be planting blue flax on the soil around the Iris. When your bulbs need to be divided you just lift the pot dump it out on a tarp, replant your pot and drop it back in the first pot. My friend was in her 80’s and said this was the secret to her beautiful garden. Her daughters come once a year and help her pull the pots that need thinned. It makes quick work of an otherwise time consuming chore.


    1. That’s one way to go. My “solution” was letting the garden run wild – instead of a lawn I’ve decided on a bee friendly wild flower patch. Alas, except for the dandelion there have been few flowers. The rest looks like overgrown lettuce 🙄


  4. We have 34 acres and most of it is wild conservation ground planted with wild flowers and grasses for bees and other wildlife. I have found that keeping things around the house and out buildings down helps with mosquitos which are terrible in Indiana. I let one of the flower beds go wild last year and this spring I could not find my rose bush and irises for the mulberry trees and weeds. the trees are hard on the foundations of buildings so the wild approach is left for our conservation ground. The weed and tree control on the conservation ground that is required by the government is all the maintenance I want to take on as we get older. At some point we may have to give this up but I sure hope not. We love the wildlife it has brought in.

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    1. I think that sounds lovely – and certainly very different to the gardens I pictured. Those are usually the small patches in front of houses, the size of about a larger living room.


  5. You might try planting white clover. It can be mowed with your lawn and the bees love it. and invasive plant that brings in the humming birds and bees is the manarda or bee balm. If you get one little start of this it will spread quickly. When in bloom it is around 2 to 3 ft. tall with red or lavender blooms.


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