Report From PIA – October 7
I’ve done a number of consultations this season where the homeowner is worried that their plants have gotten “out of control.” Usually they’re talking about shrubs and trees that are growing to be their normal, genetically determined size and shape. In order to be most helpful for these clients, I can’t say what I’m thinking: “This is a beautiful plant… what the hell are you worried about? Snap out of it!”
If size isn’t the issue, what disturbs my client is the fact that the plants are touching each other. Some people just aren’t comfortable unless there’s three feet of mulch in between each perennial, shrub or tree.
I was thinking about this today, because in many parts of my landscape there is too much mulch. Some of my clients might think these gardens are perfect, but I don’t. Either the plants were small when they were put in and need to fill out, or I am planning on putting more in that garden, once I can afford the plants. Money is a determining factor on Poison Ivy Acres.
My gardens aside, whether we are in or out of the garden, we want to feel on top of things. If we’re in control, then nothing bad can happen, right? That degree that we want to be in command varies from person to person, of course.
In the landscape, if you do nothing you’ll have a natural landscape, perhaps beautiful, perhaps weedy, but not a garden. Do too much, and you’ll end up with plants that aren’t so attractive because they’ve been repeated cut down to control size, large stretches of mulch, or worse, that hideous landscape fabric poking through the mulch.
A beautiful garden is one where you see a balance between the plants and the gardener. The plants are allowed, for the most part, to grow into their innate size and natural shape, but at the same time those plants have been placed for the best effect, and unwanted plants such as weeds or self-seeders have been removed.
In my life I also try to maintain a balance, knowing that maintenance is in order and even with that, sometimes bad things happen. When is it time to take action, work for what I want, and try to steer toward a desired goal? When do I let go, trusting others, or God, to take over and guide me safely home? I don’t always have the answers, but because I’m a gardener, I know that it is possible to maintain equilibrium, to trust and have faith, and to work on wise plantings.