Saturday, March 1, 2008
Your Miranda Rights are on the Label
The professor in me is always looking for “teachable moments.” I ran into the images below in my slide collection. Here’s something for Green Thumb Sunday that should strike a chord with many gardeners. Raise your hand if there’s a little of you in this parable.
It’s Saturday morning, you’ve just handed a bit to much money to the barista for a foaming espresso drink, and on the way home you stop at your favorite nursery. Retailers being who they are, put the best looking, most colorful plants right at the entrance and the next thing you know, out comes your Visa card and that new plant is on its way home.
With no time to read that little plastic label in the pot, and certainly not enough time to look the plant up in a reliable reference book, it’s off the shed for a shovel. Your design process consists of “where should I put this?” and the last remaining open space in the garden becomes the place of rest for that spiffy newcomer.
I tell my classes that if there’s only one thing they learn from 18 hours in my classroom, it’s (everyone say it with me in a confident tone), “Right Plant – Right Place.” That means that you understand the preprogrammed genetic baggage that comes with every plant, and try to find the best place for that plant to thrive with as little life support and coercion from pruning shears that you can achieve. No wishful thinking, or “Oh, I’ll just trim it.” You’ve got better things to do with your time.
Here’s how I watched this scenario unfold in Santa Barbara a few years ago. The gray plant pictured below is Santolina chamaecyparissus (this is easier to pronounce - Cotton Lavender).
It gets about 3 feet across, and I’d guess there are four in this bed. Each plant gets about 18” tall and 36” across. These were spaced perfectly and create a beautiful, natural mounding form. Left at least 18” from the edge of the planter, they’ve grown to their mature size without ever needing pruning.
Here’s the same plant in another situation.
Some numb-nut decided to space them eight inches apart and start the first row about 2 inches from the sidewalk. Anyone see what’s coming?
Yep – it’s pruning time, and don’t these babies just look lovely?
But here’s the icing on the cake (and realize that the owner of this property was actually paying the gardener to do this).
Each plant, pruned individually into a rounded cylinder. Can you imagine the labor? Can you smell the fumes from the gas-powered hedge trimmer? The only thing I can imagine is that it was intended to be a topiary tribute to Marge Simpson’s hair.
Read the label – you’ve been Mirandized!