If you have "no place to go," come here!

Slow gardening


The mix of shrubs and flowers Mr. Rushing planted instead of a traditional lawn is an example of his “Slow Gardening” approach. The term takes its name and inspiration from the Slow Food movement, whose adherents believe in using local ingredients harvested in an environmentally responsible way.

Simply put, the doctrine calls for gardeners to relax, take their time and follow seasonal rhythms, instead of doing everything at once — an urge that’s especially prevalent in early spring, when people are tempted to run outdoors and plant to affirm that winter is over, taking with it the naked expanse that passes for a backyard.

At first glance, Mr. Rushing’s yard décor strikes a visitor as a maximalist hodgepodge of salvaged materials and junky doodads. There are several bottle trees (one is made of Bud Light bottles) and rusty I-beams stuck in the ground. In a far corner, a female mannequin rests on a chair, nude but for a silver cape and a wide-brimmed red hat. The entire space is encased by a fence of corrugated tin designed to thwart rubberneckers. “I’m not a snob, but I’m outside in my bathrobe a lot, and in the mornings I look like Jesus’ drunk brother,” he said.

Still, there is a clear method at work, as an exchange between Mr. Rushing and Mr. Griffin demonstrated. The men stood in the garden, debating a design element to fill space around an art installation made of three large glass circles.

“It just begs for something here,” Mr. Rushing said. “I could put boards up.”

Mr. Griffin said: “I like the boards. But what if you took some barbed wire and made a curtain?”

Mr. Rushing asked, “That wouldn’t be too mean-looking?”

The landscape architect shook his head: “It’s so powerful. It’s a piece of art.”

Mr. Rushing said, “I could do more rebar.”

Mr. Rushing’s “cheapskate gardening” techniques, like using salvage rebar as a baffle, are intended to help hobbyists surmount another hurdle to growing things: cost. He turns old tires into planters and uses paint buckets as pots. “You can dump it out and replant it,” without buying or renting a tiller, he said.

Definitely more rebar. America needs more rebar!

No votes yet


kerril's picture
Submitted by kerril on

I was expecting Cletus's front yard. Complete with the dilapidated couch and old toilet used for a planter. No such thing. The pictures are terrific and I'd love to have a day to wander around that place. I love the grassless front yard, the bottle tree, and the glass gate. Really interesting.
However,I don't think I'd use old tires for anything, even if we had them around. Of course, the dog would love them.