Ode to Mattie Dean Garden.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jun 22, 2009
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xeriscape mowed lawn

A Neighbor’s Lament:

Don’t we have better things to do with our bad-economy-pinched US tax dollars than run a gas-guzzling lawnmower over a beautiful, wild, ecologically-diverse park that was willed to be left in its wild state?

I live in downtown Boulder, Colorado. There’s a pocket park behind my house that even most longtime Boulder residents don’t know exists; it’s called Mattie Dean Garden. It was willed to the city by Mattie Dean herself, who once owned most of my block. She asked only that it be left “in its natural state.”

That means it’s basically an unkempt, natural sort of orchard. It’s beautiful—full of tall grass, wildflower, and mushrooms that stand in rows and often each span the width of small pizzas. It’s full of trees that were never planted, but are descended from trees that are native to Colorado—Juniper, etc…I don’t know what all, but probably 10 different kinds of trees.

Everyone in my neighborhood loves it. A deer often sleeps in the chest-high grass, that keeps the moisture in this tough desert climate, that provides shelter for the flowers and mushrooms and dozens of different native plants. Just yesterday I was showing off the strange rows of mushrooms to my co-worker, Lindsey.

Then, today, it was all mowed down while I was away at a benefit for a fallen friend and colleague, and then a party hosted by LOHAS / elephant / Gaiam at Happy Noodle House. Now, as the Spring rains fade into Colorado’s dry summer, there won’t be any tall grasses to keep the moisture in the ground. Now, all the mushrooms and little plants and flowers are gone. Since we don’t water the park—it’s essentially wild space—the many people and dogs that play here will trample the short, nearly and suddenly rootless grass (did you know that roots are generally as long as shoots, which means that when you mow your lawn, the roots immediately die off to the height of the grass above ground?) and turn it into the dusty desert that it was last summer, when it was mowed more often.

Ah, City of Boulder, with all your budget cuts looming, don’t we have better, less polluting things to do with our tax dollars than run a gas guzzling mower over our once-natural, “xeriscaped” park for a few hours? Can we live and let live, leave well enough alone, and let the grasses and deer and mushrooms return?


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


2 Responses to “Ode to Mattie Dean Garden.”

  1. Kevin Hotaling says:

    Come November 3rd, the lunacy will end. 🙂

  2. Andrea says:

    I also don't get the weed-spraying around Denver Public Schools….