Girly-Girl Gardening

Among the functionality of my Fortress Garden, I’ve dabbled in bits of pretty things to make my growing season that much more enjoyable.

by Cyn Cady

Girly Girl Gardening - Photo by Cyn Cady ( 

Everyone that knows me, knows this truth: I am not a girly-girl. I don’t do nail polish, high heels or perfume, I don’t watch Desperate anything, and I prefer shopping at the local hardware store to Macy’s. Nope, not a girly-girl in any way.

Except one.

The Fortress Garden is a food-production unit. Everything grown there is destined for the salad bowl salsa dish, steamer or roasting pan. It’s designed and maintained strictly for the purpose of producing vegetables and berries so that I can feed my face with healthy stuff. But does that mean it can’t be … pretty?

Girly Girl Gardening - Photo by Cyn Cady ( 

This is where my inner girly-girl rears her foofy head. I tuck snapdragons into the corners of garden beds and at the edge of the raspberry border. Marigolds and nasturtiums do triple duty: deterring pests, providing zip and color to salads, and being gorgeous. A friend gave me a mosaic-topped hip-high table perfect for setting down a colander, a pair of snips or my gardening gloves. It’s also adorable.

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I’m a big fan of the tenet “form follows function,” but that doesn’t stop me from being enamored with form. My brick garden path meanders in a comfortable way, but it gets me from box to box just as easily as a more utilitarian direct route, and the cuteness factor is dangerously close to being Disney-ish. I place circles of field stone around my fruit trees and plant bulbs inside. Lemme tell ya, when spring springs at my house, it springs.

Girly Girl Gardening - Photo by Cyn Cady ( 

My garden gate was one of my favorite art projects: I jigsawed vines and butterflies into an old door, added a panel of fence wire and hung small potted succulents from it. It makes me happy every time I pass through—much more so than its plywood predecessor, a cumbersome bland thing tied with an ugly orange and black nylon rope.

Girly Girl Gardening - Photo by Cyn Cady ( 

And won’t a kitschy cowboy boot planter do just as well as one of those dreary black plastic jobbies and be a thousand times more amazing looking? You bet your sweet bippy it will! And while plastic pinwheels spinning along a fence might do a bang-up job scaring away birds, they are not nearly as groovy as Maud, my stick-figure scarecrowette, all dolled up in an old sundress and broad-brimmed hat.

But why put all that effort into making a food garden lovely and fabulous? Aren’t I taking valuable time and space away from kale and squash and green beans? Isn’t it just a waste of time?

Girly Girl Gardening - Photo by Cyn Cady ( 

Nope. And here’s why: It gets my lazy bum into the garden. I love going through my butterfly gate, strolling down the brick path past my cowboy boot planter, and seeing the bright splashes of color scattered among the eggplants and squashes and bean vines. It makes what could easily become a chore into a blissful idyll, as I embrace my inner girly-girl. Turning beds and moving soil changes from hard labor into an artistic endeavor; I daydream about what kind of garden art to hang on the fence or place in a shady corner. As I shove another wheelbarrow full of compost past Maud, I pause. Her skirt sways in a light breeze, and we do a little dance.

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