Vexed by the Vetch


Down on my knees, trowel in one hand, the other hand knifing through the soil, writing in my head, thoughts that go back and forth like the roots of the Vetch I’m trying to track down, that has gotten into someone’s garden. Weeding is something that I do hours on end, with a lot of thoughts going through my head. Snap! There goes a root I won’t get out today.

As a landscaper, I design a garden by putting the ideas in the ground, and then going back to care for it. I watch it grow into something that may or may not have been the original idea. That is the wonder of nature. Snap! I’ll have to come back to you some other day. Sometimes I feel like a Monk doing penance to nature for she has her own design.

Earlier this spring, we got a call from a young couple that needed help weeding. It was a big house with extensive landscaping, but the plantings didn’t provoke any feeling that you were being welcomed to their home.  It was just a lot of stonewall, plants, and mulch.  They had contracted with a landscaping service a couple of years before. The couple had 3 kids all under 5 with no time to care for their investment.

It took days of weeding, and much more would be needed. As I was down there on my knees, running the vetch roots through the Junipers, I couldn’t help but wonder about the landscaper. Didn’t this landscaper know enough about what he was doing? For example, he planted shrubs that were going to be bigger that the space allowed, he planted trees 12” above grade, and he used individual plants rather than a grouping of plants, which have more visual impact. It certainly wasn’t easy to maintain with hundreds of feet of garden edge against a meadow type lawn. This company certainly could have done a better job if they knew or cared about the plants they were working with, and believed in the idea that sometimes less is more. Why create a huge landscape that in a few years will end up being overgrown by weeds, and with the intended plants requiring constant maintenance.

 If they had come to me for a design, I would have taken into consideration that they are a young couple busy with 3 young ones, and no time for their hands to be in the soil.  I would have offered something scaled down. The simpler design that would have a welcoming feel to it, and would be much easier to maintain. They could expand on the design when they had more time and the desire. Landscaping is a growing thing that is always in need of some attention.  The design should take maintenance into account and we should inform our clients what will be required; for it is a huge factor in its’ long term success. 

    Weeding gives me a lot of time to think, and when I think about the designs I’m ask to do, I ask myself, can they be managed? Are they in scale with the space and my client’s ability to maintain it? I do know that Mother Nature might fill it with vetch, sorrel and quack grasses among others of her subjects. And when that happens I know it wasn’t really a good design. Snap! I have to leave the rest of that thought for another time.

3 thoughts on “Vexed by the Vetch

  1. Weeding is so time consuming and wearisome. My Pops loves to buy potted plants but never wants to weed them. Because there’s so many and all lined up outside of my parents’ home, I do the weeding or else they’ll all look gross (seriously weedier than flowery). The part I dislike the most about outdoor garden work is the spiders. Many a-times I’d notice a spider crawling on the brim of my hat. That’s why I always bring out with me a can of Raid roach spray, to zap ’em spiders dead. Pssshh!

    1. Thanks for the comments, and I can understand your dislike of spiders. I guess it is because I spend so much time weeding that I have sort of given up on my concern for all those things that I’m disturbing while running my fingers thru the soil. And the pleasure I get when I have my camera and get some great shots of spiders and all the other things that we share in this habitat. Beyond the fear, they are really beautiful and spiders are really good guys for all the other insects they eat.

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