In An Ideal World

In An Ideal World

May 03 2020

I like weeding. Maybe it’s because I don’t get all perfectionist and obsess about it. Don’t get me wrong, I obsess about plenty of things, but for some reason I don’t seem to mind if my gardens aren’t perfect. I have spoken to many gardeners about being on garden tours and this has sometimes brought on panic attacks. Horrors, they say, someone will see my weeds, that unfinished fence, and my roses aren’t deadheaded.

But my garden are and will always be a work in progress, I’ll never be done and that’s the way I like it. I have seen immaculate gardens, each perfectly coiffed plant standing in splendid solitude and all I can think is “what is there for me to do here”. I prefer gardens where the hand and heart of the gardener are obvious.

Ideals are tedious things. You can be so busy chasing perfection that you miss the joy of gardening. I have a brother-in-law who wanted to cut down the one tree in his yard because the leaves falling were too messy. He didn’t even see the tree.

Gardening is an art, and in art there are no correct answers. There is symmetry, balance, color, form and other delightful things to consider when designing a garden of course, but I try not to let any strict adherence to rules confine me.Yes, I know the professionals will tell you you need a plan-you need some concrete lines drawn on paper and lists of plants that are the right ones for your garden. Sorry, I’m not buying it-literally. I’m willing to make some mistakes for the pure joy of going to the nurseries and buying a plant just because I love it; then taking it home and figuring out where in the world I should plant it.

I am especially fond of buying trees and when we took out some old and dying cottonwoods on the west side of our house I found myself looking for a fast growing shade tree. Since it’s right outside the large living room window I also wanted it to be pretty to look at. I was in seventh heaven-tree shopping! I happily spent a couple of hours (well, maybe 3) wandering around the nursery reading the tags on the trees, picking the brain of a very knowledgeable tree guy, and eventually came home with a ‘Sensation’ Maple about seven feet tall. Acer segundo, also known as box elder, yes, box elders are maples, you can actually tap them and get a small amount of syrup. It is a very hardy, fast growing and has absolutely beautiful fall color. Perfect right?

Well, maybe, maybe not. I’m told that Sensations are a grafted male tree and will not attract box elder bugs, but what if it outgrows it’s spot, what if it gets too large and blocks my view? There is simply no right and only answer anyway, many different trees would have worked just fine in that spot, but I wanted that one. That’s a good enough reason for me.

‘Sensation’ Maple, Acer negundo, 40-50 ft. tall, 30-40 ft. wide, zone 4