Gardening with Daniel Oct. 10

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Gardening with Daniel

I should congratulate myself. I planted those Pomegranate trees way too close together, and now I can see it. Clear as day. For now just walk away.

I have made all kinds of mistakes in the pursuit of concepts. I shall try not to digress from the garden variety; except to say romantic folly set the precedent for everything following the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. These things we call regrets are the preponderances of gardening activity, the stuff that comes up in the sweat as you pry up Bermuda rhizomes, inhale Mesquite dust from the saws-all,and cart off wheel barrow after wheel barrow of prickly pear pads precariously perched in pinnacles. I seriously need to get some friends.

What is it about gardening that is so conducive to introspection?Aloneness? It seems the obvious answer, but that’s not it at all, for one can be so alone in the company of others. I am conversing.

Pomegranate trees, quite hardy here, and drought tolerant once established, are native to Iraq and Iran. They are compatible with my scheme for Mediterranean order. The Alhambramade an impression on me,age 7, when our family took sabbatical in Spain. Formality is a reassuring quality in the face of a history of adversity, crusades against fellow man, or against the land itself, in the form of unsustainable grazing, and recreational driving over open desert with total disregard.

Formality is actually the first attempt to stake out the areas to be spared further abuse, and allow the microbes to re-populate in tiny colonies in the shelter of a bit of debris. Isn’t it funny how similar the look of destroyed land is, no matter whereyou are on Earth.

I envisioned a grove of Pomegranates, in an “L” shape framing the house to the east and the south, an echo of borders woven into prayer rugs. Never mind that the Pomegranate is a stiff, graceless ‘V’ shape, tough to prune and thorny too!

I was seeing things from the bird’s eye view—looking down into a maze, designing the “someday in 10 years” picture. It would look formal, and as a bonus, these trees would accumulate a nice carpet of leaves, regenerating topsoil.

Seven itchy years have passed. Seven Pomegranate trees- a few which are sulking from repeated transplants, and still, I can’t tweak it. I surrenderedthe grove conceptsince others thought the drivewayessential. Instead,an off-set row of ‘forbidden fruit’ would make a splendid backdrop for a 40’perennial borderaccomplished with natives such as Verbenas, Penstemon, and Salvias, which would partner with the indigenousRabbit and Turpentine bush.

I had no budget to clear or level first. I installed trees, as I could find them, on the existing slope. Eyeballing has proven no substitute for measuring, painfully obvious as the trees grow. “Irregular groupings of 2, 3, 2 can not suffice as a solution,” I lament. “Grounds for decapitation,” I’m referring to myself, not the trees.

In pursuit of the vision, I encounter my own worst enemy, myself. Introspection reveals that I am impatient, unrealistic, impractical, and (is it a good thing?) inspired. What can be designed with what grows well in Oracle, is an enduring fascination. The shape and scale of plant combinations, not the bloom color, is key- is the backbone structure of that art form known as the border. Essential to good design is an abiding tempo.

I am anxious for a cool overcast opportunity to overhaul the mess I’ve made. Until then, a conversation with this unrealized vision will not shut up. The right tools, the moisture in the soil will each have some say. I must show the roots proper protocol.

Maybe that Pomegranate will not survive another adjustment. Risk I have to take. It’s wrong. There is no return.

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