Conflict of self-interest
Andrea Bellamy |

My backyard is having a bit of an identity crisis. It’s not its fault; it’s picking it up from me. I can’t decide what I want it to be. Is it a garden? A farm? Or an outdoor room?

When I say, “backyard,” I mean a 180 sq.ft square currently covered in concrete pavers, surrounded by a 5-ft fence. The 2-ft. strip that isn’t covered with pavers acts as a temporary holding area for plants I brought with me when I moved last year. As you can imagine, it is truly a thing of beauty. (I’ve only posted one photo of it, and even then it was covered in snow.)

I’ve been looking at this embarrassment of a garden for over a year now. At first I told myself that I wanted to give it a year to get to know the conditions of the site. Now I know I was just stalling. I just can’t decide what to do with it.

The nature lover in me wants to ditch the patio altogether and create a garden. In my world, this would probably start off as an earnest attempt to create a wildlife-attracting edible forest garden and end up being a mish-mash of nostalgic favourites and I-found-this-on-sale-
at-the-nursery-and-I-must-have-its. I have no self-control.

The environmentalist in me reads the first page of my local veggie-growing bible, the West Coast Seeds catalogue, and wants to create a small-plot intensive farm. Due to peak oil, climate change and general impending doom, West Coast Seeds owner Mary Ballon is this year urging her customers to use their land as a step toward self-sufficiency. She urges us to be farmers rather than gardeners, and reduce our dependency on oil. Sounds great. But while I love growing vegetables, would I be satisfied with all-veg, all the time?

The designer in me takes a look at the architecture of my building and the minimalist nature of our indoor furnishings and thinks I should create an outdoor room. Sleek, minimalist and modern, it would be mostly, if not all, patio, with just a few carefully-chosen container plantings. Obviously, this approach is in conflict with the two above.

What’s a girl to do? Have you ever (or do you always) find yourself in this predicament? What did you do?

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