Years ago we removed all the lawn from our small front yard and planted a purple and white garden.  It gets modified most years and lately I’ve been adding more and more native plants. Because of the mixed plantings - trees, shrubs, perennials and ornamental grasses - it is constantly changing, something is almost always in bloom, and we get great fall color from our neighbor’s Japanese Maple.

We’ve been keeping bees for years in a top bar hive.  It is a more natural way of keeping bees, especially since honey production is not our goal.  It is good to be sending chemical-free bees out into the world and fun watching them coming home in the afternoon weighed down with pollen.  Our hive has a window in back we can open to see the comb building progress. When we do take a bit of honey, we just remove a full comb and hand squeeze the honey out through cheese cloth.

I water my small kitchen garden with an old whiskey barrel that catches roof water, with supplemental watering during drought.  Keeping homes for local birds and the plants they need, as well as pollinator plants for our Italian honey bees and the endangered native pollinators, has made our small suburban backyard a very lively place.

Our latest addition, a small patio in the back of the property, boasts walls made from a local sidewalk that was being torn up.  We broke the pieces into manageable sizes and used them as wall stone. The pergola is steel, welded in place by my husband and sealed once it acquired the desired patina. It holds a swing large enough for a nap, and a string of solar lights.  The blue glass decorations are my husband’s obsession, and since it has been used historically to keep out bad spirits, why not?  The glass catches the light beautifully and I have found imaginative ways to incorporate it.  Trying different things in pots each year keeps things interesting.