Lore for the Lazy

As a run up to a couple of posts about the 118 Henry Street eco-milieu, we stumbled upon a glaring omission in the “Recommended Resources”. 

Rarely considered, old houses have old yards.  Each owner of an old house puts their stamp of “fashion” on the yard with flower beds, gardens, and general property maintenance. Analogous to the layers of change discovered in old house restoration, old yards have zones of change that mark their unique progression thru time.

During the first two years at 118 Henry Street, we were exposed to a variety of flowers, bushes, and trees that would never be found in the “modern” yard of a newer house. Besides trees over a hundred years old, there were also remnants of flower beds from the first owners. This flower beds produced beautiful flowers and plants at the most unusual times of the year.

The result of much research and dead ends was a wonderful book by Felder Rushing.

The penultimate guide to our yard


Every (this is the absolute “every” not the “mostly almost every”) plant in our yard, besides grass, is in this book; from the 200+ year old trees thru the 80+ year old bulbs, to the plants we put in last spring.

In addition to his encyclopedic knowledge, Felder writes with a very easy, very southern style that encourages garden diversity and values the beauty of imperfection,  serendipity, and wabi-sabi. With all the current “green” and “eco-fashion”, Felder speaks from generations of wisdom about making your garden/yard from what’s best for your climate, soil, and your time.

To quote Felder, concerning his philosophy of “slow gardening”:

Slow gardening isn’t lazy or passive gardening – it actually involves doing more stuff, carefully selected to be productive without senseless, repetitive chores. By focusing on seasonal rhythms and local conditions, it helps the gardener get more from the garden while better appreciating how leisure time – and energy are spent. 

…it’s more about thinking ‘long haul’ and taking it easy. Life has lots of pressures – why include them in the garden?”