Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Good Editor

A lot of wild flowers are blooming along the byways and field margins at this time of year. I drive by looking and think I have that and that. I need to stop and get some of that. Then I think, OMG, I have a garden full of weeds. I haven't seen anything that looks like my garden though.

This did not happen by accident. The bloom in my garden is ten times the intensity of the blooming roadside weeds. I got here by editing. Primarily that is by removal of the unwanted. That opens up space for the more desirable.

Critical to that success is a working knowledge of plant behavior and ability to identify my weeds. It takes a good editor to make a beautiful meadow.

It also takes a good editor to make and maintain a more typical garden, even more so when the premise is a mini version of a meadow.

Last time I saw Bulbarella's boyfriend's garden in July I was just itching to come back and edit it. Two huge dead spots from roundup and one dead Witch Hazel in the middle of one of them made it clear he needed help. When he fell off a seven foot high wall and broke himself I just decided I was coming back. I was going to fix the garden so he didn't have to think about it unless he felt well enough to catch bugs.

I knew the garden needed a good editing, but when I came back and got started it became obvious that except for a desperate round of spraying this spring absolutely nothing had been done to it since last year. It was a much bigger job than I anticipated. I was going to have to squeeze in a full season of work before he came home.

The interesting thing about the big mess was that if you didn't look close - not possible for a maintenance gardener - it actually was quite lovely. The original pollinator garden/meadow planting was in there blooming like crazy. Despite the unwanted elements there was a lot going on.

He did not have the energy or the knowledge base to get the garden from the initial planting to where I intended it to go. Many of the plants I put in did. The garden is about four years old I think. At some point parts of it got out of hand and it looks like he got exasperated. Out came the sprayer.

Give me a little time. I will fix it. I am officially Bulbarella's boyfriend's gardener now.

Native plants, naturalistic gardens, meadows, the New American garden of grasses and perennials are very popular and heavily promoted these days. These gardens are beautiful in person and in magazines. But when you read about them the one thing never mentioned is the editor - the maintenance gardener.

I know what happens to a basic perennial border in four years. Making a meadow garden like this is not for the faint of heart. It requires a very high level of skill. Without an entire new generation of trained and skilled maintenance gardeners and very high value placed on their services, I fear the New American garden will never get much beyond those who can afford the help and want to be trendy.

Without help, in about four years, weeds, chaos and exasperation will set in. Out will come the sprayers.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

I think you are right about that. It sounds easy to let go and let live but the end result might not be what you want.

beverly said...

How inevitable that Bulbarella would have a gardener boyfriend. Bless you for helping him along.

Christopher C. NC said...

Lisa I just know how quickly the design intent of these types of gardens can get lost without a knowledgeable maintenance gardener.

Bev I felt a little responsibility since I designed and planted the garden for him. It was what he asked for. He is a retired entomology professor and wanted to make a site and time specific bug collection. Now he really needed the help and I was the only one around who could save the garden.