I used to watch a TV show depicting what would happen to man’s creations if we were suddenly no longer in the picture. The narratives begin within one year and advance forward in time, presented with animated images of vines and trees overgrowing their bounds and wreaking slow-motion havoc on bridges and buildings. It was fascinating to me for a while, because there are times I feel like as a species we are of little use anyway, but one day I realized – what’s the point? If there’s no one to see it, is it really happening?
I was a landscape manager for nearly 40 years, and it was my lot to prevent nature’s encroachment. Customers expect manicured results – they have been to Disneyland and want the same effect around their condos or shopping center. I took great pride over the years in servicing these desires, but middle management finally wore me down to the point that my usefulness is limited. That’s why I choose to only write about it going forward.
In early society there was no call for ornamental plantings for the common man; if it couldn’t be eaten, worn, or used people didn’t have any reason to cultivate it. Kings and the wealthy installed lavish and ostentatious landscapes around their castles and estates, and to this day they are mind-boggling to behold. It was only recently that people put in lawns and plants with only aesthetic appeal. Products for the home gardener represent a billion dollar industry, and with the recent awareness of ecological issues the word ‘organic’ has burgeoned into a mantra.
When I was a homeowner I sought out houses with minimal landscaping, simply because I had no interest in doing the same thing at home that I did all day at work. When the kids were little I lived in a house with a raised bed along the neighbor’s garage, with vegetables and herbs. I did dress up the rest of the yard, planting two maples in front and lilacs, rhodies and azaleas in back, as well as re-seeding a brand new lawn. I also put in a dog run behind the garage and a small play area with a structure on the east side, both backfilled with pea gravel. The gravel was mainly to allow dog feces to be picked up easily, and permitted me to spray a bleach solution several times a year.
Approaching my dotage, our manicured surroundings appeal less and less to me. I could see myself living out my last years in a rustic cottage with huge hoary looking fruit trees front and back. Planting beds would be full of wildflowers; daisy, digitalis, yarrow, coreopsis, etc. There would be containers full of berries and assorted herbs and the lawn would be full of dandelions and be maintained at a height of six inches – I have applied 2,4-D for the last time. Naturally there would be a vegetable garden in the most advantageous spot, because nothing tastes better than a fresh picked tomato.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t apply my enormous horticultural knowledge for the benefits of mankind in general. Hit me up, folks.