The Origins of the Name Mezzacello

An Urban Garden Tour in front of the Mezzacello Banner

Like most good stories, the origin of the name “Mezzacello” begins with both a misunderstanding and some snark. First we’ll clarify the misunderstanding. Then we’ll get to the snark.

Monticello 2.0!? Ha! We can barely afford Mezzacello!

Richard Riley

Cross Purposes

Since the beginning of our relationship together, Rick and I knew we wanted both a garden and a house. What we didn’t know was how far apart our definition of ”garden” was. Garden is a pretty vague English word.

For Rick, garden meant a space of beauty and elegance and a peaceful calm quiet place. For Jim (myself) garden meant a dynamic system for growing food and manufacturing life. We had been living in apartments until then.

We had never really talked about what the garden would be, just said it would be outside and part of the house. Big ideas and dreams were on hand. Rick’s were in his head. I had all mine laid out in CAD.

Buying the House

When we found the house in Olde Towne East it was quite the happy accident. It had been long ignored with it’s vacant and overgrown south-facing lots, we were very excited. “This could make a great garden” we’d both said.

The Devil Is In The Details

We set about clearing the lot and identifying areas where we wanted things to go. And that’s where everything went south. Our vision for what this could be was wildly different.

Rick was planning long flower and boxwood beds with graceful walks meandering everywhere. I pushed back and asked where were the animals going to go or the robots and the gardens for food and labs for experiments? It was clear we were talking about two different things.

Enter Monticello

The ironic thing is we both referenced Monticello in our defense. Rick wanted a charming Gentleman’s formal city garden. I wanted what I called ”Monticello 2.0” with technology, recycling, biochemistry, and renewable resources and energy.

I clearly remember Rick staring blankly at me and taking a deep sigh. Note: this is where the Snark comes in. Rick looked at me wearily on that fall day in the middle of this vacant yard – still smoldering from where I had used a flamethrower to destroy weeds – and sighed.

“Monticello 2.0!? Ha! We can barely afford Mezzacello!” And instantly I fell in love with that name. He was absolutely right, of course, we could not afford it.

But in my mind we could not afford to even try! We agreed that day that Mezzacello would be about both stories. They would have to compliment and compromise.

That has been the guiding principle ever since. If it is here, it had to benefit all truths of the ”gardens”. And to make sure that happened we split the garden in two.

That is a story for another time.

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