cover image FRONT YARD GARDENS: Growing More than Grass

FRONT YARD GARDENS: Growing More than Grass

Liz Primeau, . . Firefly, $35 (232pp) ISBN 978-1-55297-710-1

Primeau, founding editor of Canadian Gardening magazine, posits that a perfect lawn may not always be a good thing, arguing that well-manicured lawns are high-maintenance, chemical-dependent water guzzlers; she would be happy to see them all replaced by the flower gardens so often relegated to the back yards of urban and suburban houses. Starting with the luxuriant display of flowers, foliage plants, and shrubs in her own front yard in Toronto, she discusses more than 70 front yard gardens, most of them in Canada but some in Texas, Arizona, California and Wisconsin. She divides these front yard gardens into eight types—cottage, small city, opulent, minimalist, fusion (some grass allowed), natural, neighborhood and secret—and shows in text and photographs how they were designed, how they reflect the personalities of their owners, and what plants were used. There can be obstacles to such gardens in cities and suburbs—neighbors' objections, local regulations, overhead and underground wires, bad drainage, and hard surfaces—and she describes how many people have overcome these problems. Unfortunately, Primeau doesn't include among the many splendid photographs in the book any that show how one of these colorful gardens would stand out in the context of a block where all the other houses are fronted with carpets of grass. But this is a small matter. The book is handsome, informative and amusingly written, and it should serve as an inspiration to those who are tired of old-fashioned lawns. 240 color photographs. Garden Book Club and Country Home & Garden Book Club selection. (Mar.)