Sunday, November 18, 2007

Front Yard

On the right side of NYCGarden is a feature called Front Yard. So far I have been posting pictures of plants in my front yard, but my intention with this feature is to highlight the front yards of New Yorkers. What I want to do is approach certain homes that have front yards that I think are interesting for one reason or another and ask the gardener about their yard and take a photograph. Afterward I will post a picture and some words about what inspired their front yard. It is a little late in the season to get this started now, but by springtime I hope to have a few Front Yard feature posts. You will also be able to link to an archive of past Front Yard posts.

What I am interested in is ideas about yards and gardens. Most yards can be broken into a geography of home, front, side, and back yards. Each has specific uses and psychological conditions. I want to discuss the front yard because it is the place that we present ourselves to the public. It is a visually public space that is organized or designed privately. In NYC, front yards are often simply an apron to the home's body. Yet still they communicate ideas about the people who live there.

For me, the idea of gardening in the front yard is essential. Directly, to anyone willing to notice, I am presenting ideas about myself. It also gives me an opportunity to meet people, to be out in public without the NYC rush. The gardens give me and passers by something to discuss and allowing us, perhaps, to cross over perceived boundaries. They reveal our personal sense of beauty, speak about our cultural background, and express our practical needs. This is only the beginning of what a garden opens up. The front yard forms the passage that visitors experience on their way into our private spaces; our front yards are the preambles to our homes. My front yard may be a precondition.

Obviously, people have different ideas about what their front yard should be. The source of these ideas isn't always explored, but maybe come from their childhood experience, their neighbors, magazines, or a combination of sources. All front yards express something, intentional or otherwise, about the people who live there. However, many of us won't see the same thing when looking at them.

So whenever I stroll down a street I am looking at the many front yards. Each yard tells me a different story and every so often someone is saying something really interesting. That is what Front Yard will be about.

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