I am a gardener…but I am not genteel. I have a floppy hat, but it looks more like a military jungle hat. When I garden, I have my Hori Hori, pruning saw, and Felcos hanging from a web belt, a knife in my pocket, and one of three pairs of seasonally appropriate shoes designed for some type of extreme sport on my feet. I am gardening, but I look like someone drew first blood and I am laying out wicked snares for them.
People tend to use the words ‘gardening’ and ‘landscaping’ interchangeably; but I think that gardening is nurturing your plants, and landscaping is bending the ground to your will. It is the guerrilla warfare of the garden, an attack on the land, a sort of benevolent colonialism of the soil, the surroundings, structures, even the sky. When I am landscaping, I am changing my earth from what it is to what it wants to be–whether it knows it or not. When I am “scaping” my land, I am answering questions and solving problems: if a glacier advanced upon my yard and then receded, where would it leave boulders, how would it push the earth, where would it carve and shape the ground into hill or swale? Water wants to drain here, this area will never have sun and this area will only be shady at night. What to do? To me, the central question of landscaping is, “if there weren’t any plants there, would my dirt look good?” The answer should be “yes;” and to have it look like I didn’t do anything at all.
The effortless grace of a talented ballerina belies the incredible time and effort: when she is great, you will never know the work involved. A talented landscaper is both commando AND ballerina.
Time to put on my camouflage tutu.