Uncharted Waters

“In my 50 years of raisin’ chickens I’ve never seen the like” -proclaimed the weary farmer.

The Coronavirus flu pandemic has the world turned upside down. Children are now telling their parents to “stay inside!” It’s terrible for every individual and devastating to many businesses. Unfortunately for the “green industry”, who take in much of their annual revenue in the spring, it’s come at a particularly bad time. The good news is, most of these businesses are considered “agriculture” and/or deemed essential to maintaining the basic operations of residences. Garden centers grow and sell many vegetable plants while landscape contractors maintain the cleanliness of vegetation around the home as well as offer outdoor construction services. Some nursery activities have to be completed in the spring dormant season, particularly digging of trees that we’ve already done. Also, our busiest planting season is spring but with watering, this can be done anytime. As for landscaping, there are certain jobs we might postpone but others that can be completed with a few modifications. Some jobs only involve a tractor operator working on a large rural property. Others might require a crew working together in a tight neighborhood. At least our workplace is outdoors so we can maintain physical distancing (the term “social distancing” doesn’t make sense as we are still able to communicate properly on a variety of platforms while remaining physically distant). We have mandated one man per vehicle with their own set of tools, gloves, sanitizer, etc. of course our employees will be monitored for fevers and given the option of working or not. Also, our customers will be given the option of allowing our work to continue on their properties or not and with appropriate adjustments, we’ll get through this with caution and common sense.

Hopefully, by the end of April, we’ll be on the downside of the infection curve and the warmer weather will reduce the spread of the virus. In any case, this is a spring for the record books. And for once, it’s not all about the weather!

Now an interesting diversion from the “lockdown”. The following is a passage from James Michener’s “Chesapeake”. It pretty well sums up our philosophy in low maintenance garden design:

“She made it clear to the workmen that she did not wish a formal garden in the English style, like the ones she had known along the Rappahannock. She respected geometrical patterns and understood why they were favored by ladies whose fingers never touched soil; through a change of seasons and alternating blooms such gardens could be attractive, but she loved to work the soil and to see large results, and this produced her basic strategy. My principal ‘flowers’ will be trees. Because when you plant trees, you’re entitled to believe you’ll live forever.

Upon this solid foundation, she composed the rest of her stupendous garden: dogwood for spring, mountain laurel for summer and huge plantings of pyracantha for autumn, at which time the dogwoods would reappear with clusters of red berries.

No tulips, no hollyhocks’, she said. ‘And for heaven’s sake, no boxwood. I want nothing that has to be coddled.’ She avoided also the peony, the tall magnolia, the phlox, and hawthorn. But she was not averse to decoration, for when her large plantings were in a position she said, ‘Now for the jewels’, and in two dozen practical places she planted holly trees – two male, twenty-two female – expecting bright berries of the latter to provide glow at sunset. And when the hollies were started – some to grow forty feet tall – she added her final touch, the extravagant gesture which would make this stretch of lawn her timeless portrait. In seven open areas where the sun could strike, she planted clumps of daylilies, knowing that when they proliferated, the areas would be laden with tawny-colored flowers of great vitality and brilliance. July at Devon Island would be unforgettable; the daylilies would see to that.”

Be safe and healthy!