In the ongoing mythology of Mezzacello the idea of a DMZ between “North and South Korea” i.e. the pretty and plentiful gardens has been a sacred one. We both of us decided we needed a neutral ground to rest and ambulate. Well South Korea (Rick) decided he was going to make a land grab. He claimed the DMZ behind the pond and around the pergola as his parterre knot garden. I went away for a weekend and came home to find that Rick had bought 64 1 gallon boxwood plants to populate the parterre garden.

Rick planting boxwoods in the parterre gardens. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello
The north parterre knot garden as seen from the house. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

At first I was mad. We have a policy that anything over $200 we both have to agree to. But Rick really snagged a deal on these plants; $10 a boxwood plant (they retail around $24-$30 a pot). But that is only half the battle. There need to be 64 holes that need to dug. I bought an auger and we’ll (he’ll) just have to pound away at that.

This is a guerrilla move, but at least he concedes that we should plant a medicinal and culinary herb gardens in the five knot triangles. The issue is that boxwood parterres require really acidic soil. But most herbs require slightly alkaline soil. I will have to keep doing research to come up with a system that will allow both ecosystems to thrive. No big deal; Mezzacello is all about applied research.

The parterre completely planted and the first spread of available herbs this late in the season. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

I am beginning to realize that this parterre is actually an emerging sixth ecosystem. It is a hybrid of Rick’s formal vision and my food first mission. It is comprised of largely perennials and some annuals. It has to be watered regularly (hating that). But I will develop a system around that eventually. The last obstacle is predators. Those tasty delicate herbs attract all the wild rabbits and ground hogs to the yard. I stepped in an animal dropping for the first time (outside of my livestock yard) and I was not happy. I have to say, after visiting the Cloisters of Metropolitan Museum of Art and seeing how herb gardens were planted, Rick was right on point. It has been nice to walk right out the side door and take cuttings of the herbs when cooking. I will keep monitoring this situation.

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