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  • i've never been big on houseplants, or very talented at keeping them alive. I've also mostly lived in urban environments where gardening was not required.

    When I got married four years ago and moved to my husband's 80-acre property, I was given responsibility for three raised beds for vegetables in the back of the house and a challenging tiered garden along the front of the house-- for flowers.

    I took to vegetable/food gardening like a fish to water. I love it. And after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver I started waking up to the local food opportunities in my community and the possibility of eating in a totally new way. In this short time I'm up to 12 raised beds, a new cold frame and a large bed for potatoes and onions. It is a place of great satisfaction and we eat like kings.

    Still, the tiered garden at the front of the house symied me. I dutifully put in my annuals and laid out various rows and bunches of perennials, never sure if they should face the sidewalk or face the driveway. This garden doesn't get much sun, but I learned which annuals worked. I weeded, but with resentment.

    Then last year I made a big decision. I was already growing some herbs in those beds to have them near the kitchen-- why not cabbages? I heard scarlet runner beans could be quite lovely climbing up a trellis. A thyme border might even prove to be perennial, better than the alyssum I was planting each year and coaxing to a border by mid-July...

    The beans didn't grow fast in their shady spot, but the trellis itself turned out to be a nice element-- one that disrupted the question of which way the garden faces. And now, with the cabbages gathering their layers and the mint and oregano in bloom, I get considerable satisfaction passing it each day. The phlox and hydrangea seem to like the neighborhood as well.

    Next year, there will be huckleberry bushes in with the lilies and primrose, and maybe a rooster pepper plant or two.
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