I am here to ask for some kindness after an old lady visiting my give-away community fleamarket on our land said in a mean voice, right after hello and with a book in her hand that I was gifting her, that our front yard looks really messy and really rather ugly, as if that was a normal thing to just say to a person. We live suburban and very close to the neighbors, who use drinking water for lush green grass. It is an orchard that we don't mow but where the grasses dry out anyway (year 4 of drought and sand soil).
I just need to hear a few words from people who also care more about insects and groundwater levels than beauty.
Thank you <3
German auDHDer trying to work on all the permie projects I've ever seen at the same time
Tomke, I'm sorry that she said that to you. Hugs! That isn't a normal way to speak to someone. It's downright rude, especially since you were gifting her something she wanted. Many people seem to feel that they have a right to impose their standards of how a yard "should" look on others and judge anyone who doesn't agree. Frankly, sometimes I wonder if when confronted with a more abundant and easier way of doing things, they get grumpy at the realization that they've been doing a ton of work, oftentimes unpleasant, because it's what they were "supposed" to do. And rather than start to explore that and get curious about other options, they take it out on people who've chosen differently and freed themselves of that approach.
I think we need to redefine what beauty in a landscape means. To me, large swaths of monoculture grass dotted with a few sad ornamental plants that don't nourish people or wildlife is not beautiful at all. When you factor in the tremendous amount of resources, nasty sprays, loud noise and smells from lawn equipment and other harms to the environment, I consider it quite ugly. Not to mention the attitude of fighting and controlling nature that tends to go with it is most unbeautiful.
I think creating abundance and mutual flourishing for all the beings we share our homes with is what is beautiful. Creating space where bees, birds, wild plants and all manner of wildlife can thrive is beautiful. Caring for the soil and the water that moves through our land is lovely. What you are doing is sustaining life and extending that generosity beyond yourself to include other beings, human and more than human. I think being in cooperation and reciprocal relationship with nature that way is perhaps the most beautiful thing one can do, so keep up the good work!
“Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.” ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer
I'm guessing this person was just unloading her own troubles onto you, and I'm sorry for that happening to you.
Does it help to wonder if she's perhaps just lonely and unhappy and came to connect with people but has forgotten how to do that in a healthy way?
THANK YOU for CARING about the world, the earth, nature, and doing something nice for other people. Not everyone is in a place to reciprocate, but someone ELSE that you helped that day will pay it forward <3
"The world is changed by your example, not your opinion." ~ Paulo Coelho
The good news is that you don't live in a HOA community, otherwise what you would have gotten isn't just a rude opinion but a command to comply and fines. Even in the city, they have code enforcement that will give fines if the grass is too tall/messy/etc, and esp if someone call and complain.
I am happy that you are keeping it messy and natural, its better for the enviroment, I like the Sheer Total Utter Neglect way of doing stuff.
Similar to noise pollution they probably see it as visual pollution, and that you should be messy/weird in the backyard and not the front yard. Some people are on the spectrum and have a stong desire for things to look a certain way and have less of a filter.
At the end of the day it is a her problem and she is projecting it onto you saying that you need to fix her problem, but thats a request, (I also have a request for $100,000, lol).
Iterations are fine, we don't have to be perfect
My 2nd Location:Florida HardinessZone:10 AHS:10 GDD:8500 Rainfall:2in/mth winter, 8in/mth summer, Soil:Sand pH8 Flat
First off Tomke, I agree with how wonderful it is to keep your grass longer and going to seed to feed the birds and insects. Hang in there, and hopefully you will gradually corrupt your neighbors!
Secondly, I would try to think up sentences to use in these sorts of situations, so they're handy to use. Something like, "The birds love the long grass and seed heads, and I don't want to deprive them of the food," puts you in a good light without sounding like an excuse.
Thirdly, often if seniors are starting to get a little dementia, it's the frontal-lobe "engage your brain before you open your mouth" sort of things that deteriorate first. Depending on the lady's other behaviors, it might be a kindness not to take what she said personally. That can be hard, but if you can see this as a "her" problem, rather than a "you" problem, you may feel less "attacked" and more able to think - let it go, she's a grouchy old lady and I don't need her grouching on my sunny day!
However, lastly, are there things you can do, gradually over time, that will help this situation? For example, one fall I planted a bunch of crocus bulbs in several groups in my lawn where visitors would see them. You could make a few signs that would "suggest an alternative reality" to people seeing your yard. For example, by a patch of flowers - "Pollinators - free food here". If/when time allows, build properly designed bird houses for birds you'd like to attract and paint them pretty colours or patterns. In other words, meet your neighbor half way. Prettify your orchard in helpful, useful ways - preferably in ways that would also help improve your soil and ecosystem. Give people something "pretty" to look at to distract them from what they don't see as pretty even though it's a healthy environmental choice.
You are not alone Roolf! I love my messy garden, but I am aware that when I post pictures online, I'll usually pick the nicest views.
Peoples ideas of beauty can be restrictive, and I commend you on breaking free. I personally love long grass with weedy flowers. One thing that I have heard suggested is to mow paths through the grass, so that it is obvious that it is a choice to leave the grass long, not simply neglect.
A couple of threads that might inspire you:
Food Forest Pictures Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Be sorry for the lady that she does not know enough to appreciate your biodiversity.
I have never seen your yard, but I am confident that the comment had far more to do with her as a person than your yard. Keep on the high road. As Churchill observed, “ The trouble with wrestling with a pig is that you get dirty, and the pig likes it.”
We live on Blue Planet that circles a ball of fire. Our Planet is circled by a Golden Moon that moves its oceans. Now tell me that you don’t believe in miracles....Unknown
Changing minds is like building soil. It takes time, persistence, and a relaxed mindset.
Case in point: My parents are very good conventional gardeners. They have grown insane amounts of food for 60 years, with plants marching in rows and everything neat and tidy. And the grass closely mowed, neat and tidy.
And yet when they toured our unconventional, closely planted, decidedly untidy garden, what they noticed was the massed hordes of bumblebees working the catmint and sunflowers that we sort of leave to grow feral unless they're in our way. And the comment came -- we don't see any bees! Maybe our place is too neat and tidy! Meanwhile, as I was trying to pick my slack jaw up off the floor, DW and mom arranged for delivery of catmint seed at the end of the season.
The point is: you never know what you've started, and where it can lead. This could be an opportunity. (I'm still in shock!)
I am so sorry for what happened to you. We could spend an inordinate amount of time in debating why this lady did what she did and said what she said: is she lonely, is she mean, has she got Alzheimer, did she have a bad childhood, etc, but at the end of the day, it really does not matter and her reasons are neither here nor there. What matters is that it hurt you. And for that, I am sending you the biggest virtual hug your way!
Don't give up on your dream and don't forget what Friedrich Nietzsche said:
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music!"
So, she can't see the beauty? You do!!
Love is the only resource that grows the more you use it.
I'm no psychologist, but there are elements of behavior that arise from our complex human minds that are very hard to understand. Quite possibly she actually admires your yard, but has been too restrained by her own anxieties to ever do such a thing herself, and is currently letting jealousy take over her thoughts and actions.
I believe a lot of people need to go through this, kind of like a stage, to hopefully advance to a humbling next level where they overcome some of their inner demons in a moment of self realization and reckoning! One day eventually she will probably stop mowing parts of her lawn too, and her comment and experience about yours will be on her conscience as a deciding factor to just go for it ;)
Why would you worry for a minute about what she says or thinks?
Here in the US there're plenty of folks like that, in the communities where houses are closer together or in towns and they instituted their restrictive rules, covenants and ordinances - restricting front yard vegetation, banning food gardens in them and requiring short mowed lawns, regulating fence height and type. They feel this stuff improves their property values. The solution is not to live where these ordinances exist. But if the place doesn't violate any official rules - who cares what they think...
I'd run that woman off the property...
I think in her own twisted way that this woman was paying you a compliment. Her way of seeing the world is a big part of what is going wrong with our environment and society. If she is alarmed by your beautiful ecosystem of abundance, you are doing many things right. I am not good at it in the moment when confronted by the confused and combative, but hers is really a pitiful and sad place to see the world from.
On a bit of a tangent, this reminds me of a time in the 4th grade that a girl I had a crush on felt the need to tell me that “all the girls were talking , and we think your butt and lips are way too big”. At this same, almost all white school (I am also), my music teacher told me “your lips are too big to play trumpet” (?!?), which was my preferred instrument to try at the time. She may well have been trying to save my parents headaches with this nonsensical statement, but of course it didn’t help my self image. Later, at a much more diverse high school, a black female classmate complimented me by saying, “you’ve got a black ass and black lips… what else?” It was all very confusing, and I was always slow on the uptake with women, but diversity is a good thing! I do not think my wife would prefer a flat-assed, reedy-lipped husband. I hope it makes you feel a little better to consider how your garden and my rounder than average parts are alike. I am sure many people find it beautiful, and who cares about the rest?
This is all just my opinion based on a flawed memory
I can only echo what others have said. Don't let yourself be browbeaten or feel bad because your front yard is not up to her standards. My knee jerk reaction would be:
: too bad my front yard is not up to your standards. I hope my gift is, though... and your politeness is not up to MY standards.
[Not terribly helpful in attempting to make friends, but she earned the rebuke].
BTW, are you interested in making friends with such a harpy?
Maybe it's my age, but this kind of behavior is something I have no patience for. Sometimes, a good tongue lashing is the best way [unless you were trying to attract business, of course]
$10.00 is a donation. $1,000 is an investment, $1,000,000 is a purchase.