With the exception of the sprawling orchard that wraps around the west and south sides of our place, we’ve had the best neighbors in the world for more than 22 years.
The orchard — which has just begun this year’s four-month run of low-hovering helicopters, propane cannons blasting from dawn to dusk, guys firing bottle rockets from four-wheelers and speakers broadcasting screeching loops of recorded distress cries to scare off birds — is another story.
But the neighbors on either side of us are the kind of people you’d figure to meet in a Norman Rockwell painting — hard workers who always have time for cheery waves and casual chats over the fence. When it snows, one fires up his tractor and plows everybody’s driveways. Another always seems to have made a few too many Christmas cookies and wonders if perhaps he could drop some off for you.
They’re also gardeners. Serious gardeners.
I won’t embarrass them by using their names, but the neighbors to the north grow more vegetables than any six families could eat. Potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, zucchinis, strawberries, string beans, onions, peppers, pumpkins — and every time I’m anywhere near the fence, they hand me another box of fresh things they’ve just picked or dug up.
Meantime, the neighbors to the southeast have green thumbs for growing flowers so colorful and lush that you’d swear you’d stumbled across some forgotten corner of the Garden of Eden. Varieties I’m not smart enough to identify flourish in luscious shades of orange, purple, red, yellow, white, bright green — a pleasing palette for artists whose medium is dirt and trowels.
I marvel at both sets of neighbors. Someday, I tell myself, maybe I’ll plant a garden and grow fresh vegetables and flowers with strong enough scents to cover the smell of our old, flatulent dog.
But who am I kidding? I can’t even keep up with the lawn.
Still, it’s a nice pipedream that helps me endure the cannon fire from the orchard for a few months.
Apparently, I’m not alone. Even people who live in quiet homes are increasingly interested in gardening. In the past decade or so, 35 percent of American households grew their own fruits and vegetables — a 200 percent increase from 2008, according to the National Gardening Association. Gardening grew even more during the pandemic as people sought private food supplies and soothing activities to maintain their mental health.
So we suspect this issue’s ”Home & Garden” theme will be even better read than in past years.
From Christine Corbett Conklin’s examination of what your gardening style says about your personality to Carol Barany’s application of the Marie Kondo tidying-up methods to her own garden space, this month’s magazine is popping with ideas and inspirations. Melissa Labberton’s visit to Wendy and Scott Wilding’s elegant home, plus Glenda Tjarnberg’s report on finding your way through backyard tree-trimming add to the usual mix of style and sensibility.
We hope you enjoy it. Meantime, I’ve gotta go find my noise-canceling headphones.
- John Taylor