There’s No “Home” in My Garden

A comment I made in one of my posts on Monday made me think a lot more about the sense of place in my garden. I was talking about this one particular garden that I drive by–the garden with the windmill–and the sense I get that those homeowners (who I don’t know at all) had relocated from the Midwest.

It’s not just the windmill. In the fall, they do a display that also makes me think that. I think I posted about it last fall with a similar theme, talking about how certain things don’t belong in New England gardens. In that case, it was the hay stacks, and scare crows. It’s not that we don’t really have such things here–we do, occasionally–but they are much more common on the plains of the Midwest than they are to our more limited farming here in New England.

Pumpkins, gourds and corn, while they struggle to grow here some years, do grow here so it’s fine to decorate with those things. But this whole haystack and scarecrow thing is a bit over the top. If I recall correctly, they might have even had a stagecoach wagon wheel–but now I might be mis-remembering.

My thought, however, was that no one would realize where I’d grown up by looking at my garden. It’s not that I have any dislike for where I was raised. I was raised at the Jersey shore, on one of those barrier islands that was almost obliterated by Sandy a few years back.

But beach grass and shore pines, aside from being woefully out of place in my landscape, probably wouldn’t grow very well either. And I don’t like them. I didn’t like them when I lived there and I don’t like them now.

Inside my house you’ll find evidence of upbringing. I had many happy times there and still get back to visit often. But “beach” gardening is a very specific type of gardening. And it has no place in an inland garden, whether I’d like it to or not!

8 thoughts on “There’s No “Home” in My Garden

  1. The Chatsworth Lady September 4, 2015 / 10:09 am

    Hmm, food for thought. However, I put the haystacks/scarecrows etc into the category of “exterior seasonal decoration” rather than gardening…. like the Christmas lights that are in evidence between Thanksgiving weekend and New Years. So I’ve never considered such things as being part of any garden’s design, or meant to represent anything other than either the current season or holiday, or the homeowner’s personality. Maybe one of them collects windmills as a hobby, or comes from Dutch ancestry, or wants their garden to remind them of a real or desired visit to Holland. One never knows. 🙂

    One of the reasons I would never EVER live in a gated community or homeowners’ association development is that they all have restrictions on what you can and can’t do with your outdoor space. Thankfully such areas are very rare here. 🙂

    • gardendaze September 4, 2015 / 2:59 pm

      You know, clearly I’m not firing on all cylinders today. But to get back to the windmill thing. This isn’t a Dutch windmill. It’s an irrigation windmill. You see them in the midwest on farms. So there’s nothing charming about it.

      But again, it may remind these folks of home–just a different version of home than I think the one you’re thinking of!

      And I’m really not trying to judge, despite my comment about the charmlessness of the windmill. I’m sure each of us does things in the yard that others would prefer we didn’t. I know when I lived in a condo, my neighbors made me take down my bird feeders–they found my birds “messy,” and were worried about rodents. Sigh.


      • The Chatsworth Lady September 4, 2015 / 8:34 pm

        Aha, that explains it: I have never seen an irrigation windmill. 🙂 The only “non-Dutch” ones I’ve seen are the sleek white ones used in wind farms and even those only once.

        A friend of mine lives in an apartment and a neighboring tenant made a similar fuss about her single bird feeder because they didn’t want the droppings on their adjacent patio (starlings….).

  2. gardendaze September 4, 2015 / 11:07 am

    Ah, but you see, that’s why if we all liked the same thing, we’d have a very boring world!

    I couldn’t agree more about the whole gated community thing. We have too many communities that restrict what you can do–what you can plant, what color you can paint your house, even whether you can hang clothes outdoors! That sort of restriction on expression just makes me crazy!

    I don’t know why the whole scarecrows and haystacks bother me. Maybe it’s just too much of an “over the top” thing in a residential neighborhood.

    I saw neighbors on Tuesday with pumpkins already–pumpkins in this very dry season and I thought–“Ooh! Squirrel feeding stations!” But that’s just because it’s way too early for those too.


  3. pal September 4, 2015 / 7:19 pm

    I gather that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. I know I’m in the minority here, but I really can’t stand seeing all sorts of “fake” stuff in the outdoor garden. Although I do get a chuckle from the pink flamingo, the thing I dislike the most, and I’m sorry if I offend any readers, are the enormous plastic blow-up things created for every season that have been showing up everywhere. I can’t stand seeing these gigantic blow up Easter bunnies, or Santas or gigantic pumpkins. I guess it’s all the plastic and the huge size that’s so ugly to me. Plastic really is forever, too, in the environment. Anything natural, be it hay or pumpkins, I would never mind. I also love anything that welcomes in birds and wildlife such as bird baths, feeders, bat houses, etc.

  4. gardendaze September 4, 2015 / 7:34 pm

    You know, I too almost mentioned those snow globe ornaments. At first they were just Christmas decorations. Now they do seem to have them for lots of holidays. My next door neighbor loves them. Ah well. They decorate front and back yard with them. I am truly blessed.

    So you are right–beauty is in the eye of the beholder indeed! And my dislike of the scarecrows and haystacks is fading in comparison to all that plastic.

    Perhaps I am just feeling a bit crabby. It’s clear that I like nothing today. But you know, luckily, no one has to please me! We are all free to do as we please!


  5. pal September 5, 2015 / 5:00 pm

    So funny that you and I are on the same page and at the same time, our neighbors are also on their same page! My neighbor’s garden and front yard is starting to look like a miniature golf course complete with fake well and even fake plants hanging outside on the porch. She also has an enormous, and I do mean enormous, pretend clock hanging on her brick chimney! Time stands still over there. Of course, she’s probably horrified over the weeds and dried up garden I’m displaying!

    With all the tragedy and crises going on all over the world, no wonder we feel crabby and it’s hopefully harmless to share our thoughts over ultimately funny, unimportant yet individual garden decor choices. We are grateful and know that we are blessed to have this freedom.

  6. gardendaze September 5, 2015 / 8:20 pm

    Oh my! Time standing still in the garden? Wow! That definitely trumps anything I’ve got.

    Thanks for the perspective. I think you are exactly right. There’s too much horror in the world right now–we are so blessed, all of us to be able to express whatever we like in our gardens.


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