The 1940s suburban Michigan of James van Sweden’s youth was a panorama of precise, tidy houses bordered by meticulous lawns. As a teenager, van Sweden (who died a few weeks ago) was responsible for maintaining his parents’ own prized yard. The chore grew into a lawn-mowing business, which didn’t last long. As van Sweden pushed his mower across his neighborhood, something else caught his attention. A few of his neighbors had allowed their yards to sprout free and the results were a revelation. Margaret Smith’s lawn was “postage-stamp size,” overtaken by larkspur and iris and globe thistle. Marybell Pratt and Margaret Holmes had almost no lawns at all. For James van Sweden, these neighbors had joined in a tiny revolution. They began to give plants to the young van Sweden, who proceeded to overhaul his own pristine… More…