Saturday, May 26, 2007

Surrendering Plants To The Enemy

Ethical Dilemma: Is it acceptable to leave healthy, beautiful plants in the hands of the devil when you move?

Santa Barbara—where the median price of a house left $1,000,000 behind years ago. Where 18 years ago, we rented a duplex formerly occupied by my mentor, Bob Cunningham, the first landscape architect who hired me (that’s another story). It wasn’t exactly a botanic garden—some fun stuff tucked into a mass of papyrus under the windows; a parking strip choked with Bermuda grass; high Eugenia hedges and a stunnning 150 year old Coast Live Oak that took out the carport in a wind storm (car was on the street—thanks Lin!)

But I digress (‘cause that’s what I do). Starting with a 10 s.f. demolition foray into the land of Bermuda grass, requested by my son Ben, we gradually began landscaping this rental with inexpensive and found plants until it looked almost exactly like what I tell my students and clients not to do. One of this, one of that—entertaining my fancy to experiment with whatever caught my eye (see Saturday Morning Syndrome blog). However, I DID create planting schemes using color, texture, foliage contrast and all that stuff that’s essential.

The 5’ strip along the driveway is now festooned with a stunning Princess Flower (Tibouchina heteromalla--see photo above), a prehistoric looking Honey Bush (Melianthus major) and Canna Lilies (don’t plant them under the eaves near your bedroom window if you don’t have rain gutters – they make FABULOUS percussion instruments when the water pours off the roof).

So we’ll be moving about two houses away in a few weeks, to a beautiful more modern place, but there is even LESS room to garden. Perhaps that’s a good thing—I’m now an ‘X’-shaped candle burning at all four ends so how can I care for a garden? Family, day job, trying to launch a new web-based business with the other Garden Wise Guy (Owen), my band, TV show, teaching (hey, that’s more than an X-shaped candle – have to invent a new letter with more pointy things). Who’s got time?

Here’s the dilemma—the owner here has a mow, hoe, and blow gardener who just seems to think every plant desires a hedge-induced box shape to look it’s best. If I leave everything to the Marquis de Sade it will be like selling my kids into slavery. Perhaps a “dig it” party for my horticultural friends, where everyone adopts these worthy chlorophyll machines and finds them a new home?

But THAT takes an organizational effort and I gotta move. The worst part is that since I’m only moving two houses away, I’ll have to see all those sad plants every time I walk by, asking “Daddy, why did you leave me here with that bad man?”

Gotta think about this.

1 comment:

Diana said...

Yay for moving! Bigger? Smaller?

All you have to do to "oprganize" is send an email blast to your hort friends and tell them what time. If no one shows up then it wasn't meant to be and maybe the next tennant will like plants as much as you do and tell MdS to stay away.

Good luck.