Slob proof!


Today a thoughtful home and garden marketing firm that I deal with sent me a paperback version of an interior decorating book titled Slob Proof! Real-Life Design Solutions. I’ll pass it along to my wife. I’m eagerly awaiting the garden version. I need help!

In my garden an obelisk lies on its side, wrapped in a tangle of clematis vine. The vine has been dead longer than a year. I can’t recall if it died, or I killed it, but this fast growing clematis (Clematis montana rubens, below) had leapt from the obelisk into the overhanging Burgundy Lace Japanese maple, threatening to engulf it like kudzu. I remember thinking that this arrangement wasn’t working as well as I envisioned, but have no further recollection.

The stakes for the cedar obelisk have rotted, so there is no means to support it. A time or two I have set it upright, which lasts until the next puff of breeze. Eventually I will get around to cleaning up the mess, but there it sits for now. It’s not in the way of anything, and I don’t venture to that corner so often, so there should be no great rush to drop more important matters.

There is little point in arguing if this, and many other minor horrors evident in this garden, are unique to a man’s garden, or just to overburdened gardeners in general.

When the wife complains that the stone path up the hill beside the house has disappeared beneath hostas and nandinas flopping about, I’m rather pleased that they have grown more rampant than intended. After all, a path can still be negotiated through the Plum yews (Cephalotaxus), slipping between the large barberries, around a sharp spined Dragon Lady holly, stepping over the non-fruiting blackberry groundcover while avoiding the Encore azalea to one side and the low branches of Butterfly Japanese maple to the other.

And the small spot of open ground between the barberries and holly tends to get weedy or muddy, depending on whether the weeds have been pulled or allowed to grow into a nice mat that makes for cleaner passage, though the seeds catapulting around your ankles and into your boot can be a bit tiresome.

Much of the garden is quite wonderful. There are blooms from February to December, tropical leaves as large as a riding mower, aggressive vines, and delicate ones winding discreetly through the tall nandinas (above), waterlilies (below) and iris blooming in deep, dark koi ponds.

In fact, most of the lingering disasters and piles of rubble are disguised by abundant growth.

Any week, there is no shortage of tasks requiring attention, but some days are spent in relaxation, or deliberate laziness, and others lost strolling, appreciating, entranced by flora and fauna. In some manner, most of the chores are accomplished in time, and the undone are rationalized as inconsequential, or out of the way, or some other such nonsense.

If the book is published that makes short work of this large garden I hope that someone will be so kind as to forward a copy in my direction.


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