When I suggested this topic I had been traveling across the Midwest and visiting in the small town Adrian, Michigan for nearly a month. I had seen the small interior gardens of New Orleans, the sprawling farmlands surrounding the Indiana and Michigan farms, and the small compact spaces filled with flowers that make up Adrian’s front spaces. And I thought, with us all spread throughout the world, how do you think of your front space?
In Brasil, the total space around your house is a Jardim (garden), if you have an area for vegetables, herbs or fruit, that space usually fenced to separate it from the Jardim is a ‘horto’. If there is a translation for horto, given what it is used for, it would have to be a garden. English not being as rich in words that distinguish as Portuguese. In England and Scotland, in the cities that I visited, there were rows and row, street after street of homes that all looked alike except for the color of the front door and what was planted in the front garden. In the small villages of France and Italy there are often no front space, the front walls and doors butt right up to the sidewalk. The few home that I have been in had beautiful gardens behind the walls; filled with flowers and pools, benches and walkways.
Here in Texas, and more specifically Missouri City, there are yards. The older the home the bigger the yard. Some are more landscaped than others but generally the effort being made is to fit into your neighborhood. The landscaping can be pretty extensive, sophisticated, structured. There is not normally an area to sit and enjoy the ‘evening air in the garden’ that is left up to the fence backyard were you will find wood decks, swimming pools, wide areas of lawn and the dogs.
Now that I have thought about it a bit, whether you have a front yard or a front garden has more to do with language than it does how we use it. how it is planted, how we decorate the space in front of our homes.