Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Killing Fields

Down the driveway and through the dark forest is the other garden,

A garden created and maintained with brutality. This gash through the forest is the electric utility easement and no gardener worth their salt could pass up the use of this full sun.

This garden has issues though. Another maintenance crew can pass through here at any time, choosing any method and any manner of maintaining the garden to their specifications, usually meaning chainsaws or herbicides. A little preemption may keep them at bay.

I spent the entire day working in the sunny utility meadow, moving from one end to the other, killing things. No trees are allowed. All tree saplings were pulled or cut down. Any blackberries found were cut down. They are just a pain. The hideous suckering stick shrub Kerria japonica that had been planted down here was ripped out of the ground. It is just useless.

Betsy's House also got its first haircut since I have been here. A general tidiness may help make the abandoned looked loved and reclaimed.

At the end of the day, the 81 year old Bulbarella comes down for a look at her sunny utility meadow. After a day of leisure and plant shopping, she is scouting the newly cleaned garden for planting locations and eyeing the ravaged ramp patch next to the blueberries as she goes by. We got plenty ramp scattered in many hidden locations and I have been gathering and sowing seed, so no worries.

It just so happens this killing frenzy landed on Mother's Day. I get credit for the work done. I think a natural gardening urge and Mother's Day just coincided exceptionally well.

There is a lot of utility easement to cover and you can image how tree seedlings relish their own chance at some sun. At the top of the path is the roadside vegetable garden which is also part of the utility easement.

Then there are the rubbish piles. When I first arrived in June of 2007, the other maintenance crew had just been through the garden and had a done a major chop, felling many entire large trees and major limbs from those left standing. They chopped it down and left everything were it fell. It was impossible to walk through the sunny utility meadow. That first summer of 2007 I cleared a path through the debris with a chainsaw and stacked the rubbish into piles. In the summer of 2008 several of the brush piles were burned.

Fires just are not a priority at the moment. They need to be tended and watched. I was very tired of looking at these huge piles of rubbish though, so today I stomped many of the piles into half the height and width of their former selves opening room for planting closer to them and lessening their visual impact.

The pile to the left of Betsy's House was significantly reduced. The Black Cherry wood there crushed easiest of all of the wood in the piles.

Looking back at this space one can perhaps understand how it can take several years to cope with all that rubbish and attempt to maintain the space as a meadow that will not be tempting to that other maintenance crew at the same time.

The hillside below the roadside vegetable garden is the far end of Bulbarella's utility meadow.

But I kept on going and went down into my smaller front section of the utility easement killing blackberries because they're vicious, elderberries because they're boring and any small trees because they can't be in there.

With a little more work, the sunny utility meadow could have a feel similar to this.

We just need to work with the freely self sowing like this Dames Rocket, Hesperis matronalis and Scorpion Weed, Phacelia purshii and other herbaceous wildflowers that exist in the utility meadow in abundance already to achieve that feeling.

Half the battle of this garden is killing what you don't want or can't have and cleaning up after the other maintenance crew.


Anonymous said...

Wow, you really went on a rampage! (: Based on my experience with neighborhood fights with the local utility company, where the power lines run along an old railroad line which is now a walking/biking trail, I might suggest that you find out what the company's requirements are, to forestall wholesale pillage one day. I bet they have rules about distance of vegetation from their lines, allowed heights, etc. They might even appreciate someone else doing their work for them, on a wink-and-a-nod basis.
BTW, I hope I look as good as Bulbarella at 81. I would have guessed 61!


Frances said...

A late happy mother's day to dear Bulbarella from the Fairegarden clan. Her vigor and enthusiasm for gardening is a testament to the good gene pool you were lucky enough to born into.

Christopher C. NC said...

Bev, I should call the Haywood EMC just to chat at least. In the past they have come down the driveway spraying and killed azaleas and rhododendrons and then had to pay the resident gardeners for the damage. State law says these guys have to be licensed like me to kill bugs. Their courses must not include plant ID.

Yes Frances I come from hardy peasant stock. Bulbarella has the 100+ gene. You would never guess she was 81. If my blood pressure, heart rate and now easily bruised skin is any indication, I have my mother's internal organs and my father's thin skin. Which means I could live to be 100, but I'll be covered in bruises.

lola said...

It all looks great. I hope the utility co. will leave the sunny place alone.
I hope I can get around that well when I reach "70". Don't think that will happen.

Jean Campbell said...

We have not one, but two high-power transmission lines across our place. Cultivation takes place in one field, there's a meadow, and a hayfield. The utility people seem to delight in taking shortcuts across the hayfield, or maybe they're too ignorant to recognize hay growing. Because they got outside their right-of-way, complaining did help.

The rights of way were granted back in the days when the Power Company was big and scary and the landowners had little recourse.

Thanks, I feel better after that vent.

Enjoyed visiting your blog very much.