Views from the front (yard) on Memorial Day Weekend

June 20 is the official first day of summer, but this weekend marks the unofficial start. It is often a time for picnics, barbeques or get-togethers with friends and family.

Traditionally, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. It was on May 30, a day set aside to honor fallen soldiers from the American Civil War. The graves of soldiers were usually decorated with flowers. When I was growing up, my grandmothers still called it Decoration Day. But today we know it as Memorial Day, and it has expanded to honor veterans of all wars, and fallen family members as well. It now falls on the last Monday of the month to give us a three-day weekend.

This is my newest raised bed, the little box in back at the lower level. It is a mere 2 ft x 3 ft. I call it the pumpkin patch because this year I am going to attempt to grow pumpkins in it.

Most people have their gardens in by now, but I’m still working on planting mine. I just built a new raised bed a couple of days ago, a tiny one that I call the pumpkin patch. I planted 3 Queensland Blue pumpkins and 3 Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkins. They are also known as Cinderella Pumpkins because the fairy godmother is said to have turned this type of French pumpkin into a marvelous pumpkin coach. They are flattish, vivid red pumpkins, a French heirloom, and are said to have been served at the second Thanksgiving dinner in the Plymouth Rock colony in Massachusetts in 1623. Rouge Vif means vivid red in French.

My granddaughter Megan picked out a real beauty at Trader Joes last year for Halloween, and I saved seeds from it. I planted 6 seeds that I will thin to three plants, hoping to get at least 3 Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkins, one for each little granddaughter.

I saved the Queensland Blue pumpkin seeds from one that I ate about 5 years ago. These are Australian heirloom pumpkins that made it to this country in the 1930s. They have the toughest, hardest rinds of any pumpkin that I’ve ever encountered. You almost need power tools to cut them in half. The seeds are awesomely thick and would probably made great pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds). I might try that if I get any pumpkins from these seeds.

But my goal is one each blue pumpkin for the girls in addition to a red one. This is going to be a challenge, because I have yet to successfully grow a pumpkin in my front yard.  I did grow a tiny New England pie pumpkin in the back, so it should be possible. My plan is to let the vines sprawl all over the yard outside the box.

This is a view of my former Garden of Infinite Neglect as seen from the street looking toward my house. The new pumpkin patch is on a lower level at the back left of this garden.

Former Garden of Infinite Neglect and current raised bed as seen looking south.

Former Garden of Infinite Neglect as seen looking to the north.

Sorry about the unattractive bags of steer manure and potting soil, but I have one more raised bed to build before I will be done with this section. Then I can weed the Garden of Perpetual Responsibility. Again.

If I back up a bit more from where the previous photo was taken, I can see the row of fabric Gro-pots in the driveway. I have two eggplants, a newly planted pot of yams, a pot of what are most likely blue potatoes (although they could be German butterballs or even Russets–there is a lot to be said for labeling things when they are planted, huh?), and two more pots of yams.

This is the Garden of Perpetual Responsibility. It needs weeding, of course. The artichokes are done, and it is now mostly a butterfly garden.

I grow a few strawberries in a strawberry pot that sits on the brick border of the Garden of Perpetual Responsibility. I also grow ginger, horseradish and green onions in containers on this ledge.

The “Power That Is” in the household says that we have to get ready to go enjoy a Memorial weekend party with friends.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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9 Responses to Views from the front (yard) on Memorial Day Weekend

  1. Daphne says:

    Have a great weekend. Tomorrow we go to a party and then Monday is family day. And your garden is looking great.

  2. annieskitchengarden says:

    It’s all looking lovely! I love that you name your gardens, and love the names. This comment brought to you by the word “love”, LOL!

  3. Ali says:

    Your gardens looks great! We mowed the lawn yesterday (again) and I now have complete tiny yard packed with garden envy :-). I hope we’ll only have to mow once more before we turn it over to the lawn service for the summer while we are away. I really dislike mowing.

    • Ali, we have no lawn to mow at all. The back yard is completely dedicated to food or flower production, and the front is part food production, part butterfly-hummingbird garden, part pond, part California native plant landscaping, and part Korea grass lawn which never needs mowing. But despite having such a low maintenance yard (other than the food production part, which I take care of), we have a gardener who comes twice a month for a couple of hours each time. He keeps the hedges trimmed, prunes off dead stuff, and sweeps up any debris.

  4. Norma Chang says:

    Love the photo composition of your strawberry plant and the Garden of Perpetual Responsibility,

  5. irene says:

    This is great. I was looking to see if it was too late to plant Queensland Blue pumpkins here in Glendora; you’ve inspired me to try!

    • Irene, good luck with your Queensland Blue pumpkins. They say not to plant the huge giant pumpkins until mid-June here in coastal southern California, but you can plant other pumpkins from mid-May to mid-June.

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