I suspect that I might overreact a bit when patches of weeds jump up to get ahead of me. Most often, I quietly cuss the labor to dig out stubborn nutsedge, but I’ve been known occasionally to moan aloud over the messy state of the garden. Really, it’s not so bad, even when spotted spurge and Japanese stilt grass slip into the open, and once I get moving it’s rarely as bad as I made it out to be.
I hope, and I’m pretty certain there’s a considerable difference between a garden that’s left to grow with a minimum of intervention, and an untidy mess. This garden could never be considered manicured, and anyway, I wouldn’t have it that way even if I had the motivation to keep up with the labor. No doubt, leaving things alone is somewhat less work, but I wouldn’t be happy with a garden of sheared hedges, or sheared anything for that matter.
In fact, there is a single boxwood in the garden that requires regular shearing into a tall cone, but only because it was once beginning to block the intersection of two paths in the rear garden. The choice was prune it, or chop it out. And, I should admit that I missed this year’s shearing, so it’s getting a little shaggy to the point that my wife is demanding that something must be done. I think it would be easiest to give up on it, but it backs up to a globose blue spruce, and without the boxwood I’m certain there would be a significant bare spot. The spruce backs up to a large holly, so once one thing goes there’s more trouble than the small effort to shear one boxwood is worth.
So, this is good and bad, for occasionally something happens and a tree or a shrub goes down in a freeze or flood, which then requires a creative effort to hide the unsightly side of a neighbor. This is precisely what happened after fourteen months of flooding rains that thank goodness finally ended in mid spring. As one thing was chopped out, another was planted, but there are only so many ornamentals that can tolerate saturated soils, so a bunch of digging and grading was required to channel drainage and to raise planting areas.
This was not the most fun I’ve ever had, but mostly it’s done, with a good part of the open ground now covered by new plantings, but enough open space and uncovered, slightly damp ground that nutsedge is regularly invading. Dig one batch out, and there’s another three days later.
Occasionally, I hear someone say that weeding is an enjoyable part of their gardening experience, but you won’t hear that from me. Yes, I pluck here and there any time I’m out, but I find no joy in it. I enjoy creating, planting and transplanting, and I’ll tolerate a bit of weediness. I enjoy one tree or shrub overlapping onto another, and so no, I don’t think the garden’s a mess. At least not today.
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At work, where a few of us work in landscapes over a big area, it is nice that we each enjoy particular jobs that others do not enjoy. Some people enjoy mowing acres of lawn. Some enjoy weeding. I enjoy neither, but I so enjoy pruning! It works out well. I don’t have that luxury in the home garden.
I hope you never stop writing Dave. I face the same challenges that you do, but on a smaller scale. I wish I had had the foresight to draw up a rough sketch of my gardens before I started to dig. Now, 10 years later, I’m seeing all my mistakes. Not all my ideas turned out badly, but I love my gardens anyway.
Landscape designs are highly recommended, but I’m happy never to have put any design to paper. I prefer creating when the mood hits, though occasionally this doesn’t work out.