Answers to your gardening questions
effective Deer Fence!
Welcome through Fred's Garden Gate! One thing I've noticed in recent years (and others have also mentioned in passing) is that there seems to be more garden visitors who are "out of sorts" and, at times, downright rude, disrespectful and thoughtless. I recently overheard a couple of avid gardeners say that if they see another tumultuous season like this one, they'll soon be ex-gardeners! One even wished she'd designed a "secret" garden into her landscape, set aside only for her and close, trusted friends.
times like these do seem to fray fragile nerves and stir up some deep
frustrations. Polite society, however, clearly requires garden visitors—out of
sorts or not—to observe a sort of "code" to at least attempt to
avoid trampling on another's sensitivities or property rights. Here are a few
suggestions to make your visit to someone else's garden —private or
public—more pleasant, informative, and relaxing while, at the same time,
avoiding the ire of its gardener or manager.
For parents with youngsters in tow, one of the kindest things you can do is to control your little ones (and some which aren't so little, as well). Filled with energy and exuberance, youngsters can do a great deal of damage as they race around. Advise them to stay on paths; forbid rock-throwing, flower-picking, and branch-tugging; and assist them in keeping their sometimes cheeky remarks to themselves.
Domestic pets of visitors have no place wandering around in someone else's garden. Yes, there may be a resident pooch or cat, but that's never a reason to turn your pet—even cute little "lap-dogs"—loose to rip and tear, dig and chew, or otherwise "soil" the garden environment with their wastes. Leaving Fido (or even worse, big-footed Boomer) home is always the safest bet. Your friends will most certainly appreciate the kindness. . .not to mention your deeply appreciated respect for their "turf."
Stepping off obvious paths to go plodding around in the cultivated soil of a friend's garden is definitely out! You may do that in your own garden, but it's not going to be appreciated by most of your friends...and, if you persist, may get you an invitation to leave. (Much of this annoying and now near-universal habit of modern gardeners originated with the advent of television. Turn on any gardening program and see "experts" in total disregard for the structure of soil as they tromp straight into a cultivated bed to achieve a better camera angle.)
Don't pick flowers, take seeds, or snip or pinch cuttings unless you've been invited to. Yes, I've seen it in my garden and the gardens of others. Often, offenders will glance around first to see if they're being observed; then snip! or snatch!, and into a pocket or purse it goes. Seed-snatchers, blossom-pickers, and cutting-crooks are rarely invited back.
Don't appoint yourself as the official visiting weed-puller or bug-stomper. Remember that one person's "trash" may be another's "treasure." Who knows...maybe they wanted that weed ("wildflower"?) there, and perhaps that squashed insect was a valuable, beneficial type, nurtured and protected by its host. . .the now-offended resident gardener. Growing numbers of gardeners are coming to understand and respect an almost symbiotic relationship between any member of the insect world...and themselves. All life—no matter how small or seemingly insignificant—is precious to them. If, after crushing the life out of one of their insect friends, you see a look of horror on their face—and possibly a tear in their eye—apologize profusely...and run.
Maintain an up-beat, positive, giving, sharing, and pleasant attitude while visiting another's garden. Even if you see all sorts of terrible things (mistakes, misadventures, unfinished tasks, weeds, bugs, diseases, stones, poorly trimmed trees and shrubs, pet residues, scattered tools and hoses, odors, etc.), try hard to put a positive spin on even the worst of circumstances. Avoid insensitive remarks like "Oh, I see you have [some plant or other]; I have one, too, but mine's taller and has better looking leaves and prettier flowers." Another real "killer" goes something like, "Yeah...a hosta...I've got 25 different varieties in my garden!"
Finally, for you tobacco users, please don't grind out cigarette butts or spit tobacco juice in others' gardens...and never light up a cigar there, either! Most avid gardeners treasure the sanctity, peacefulness and, hopefully, the purity of air in their garden retreats. Nothing invades that refreshing, rejuvenating, and clean micro-environment like the pervasive and health-threatening odor of tobacco smoke—especially the disagreeable stench of a smoldering cigar. Few things are less pleasant to police up than someone else's stomped-in cigar or cigarette butt. (And, yes...I once smoked cigarettes, cigars and my favorite pipe—totally unaware of the harm I was doing to my body...and those of my non-smoking friends. All that ended in 1960. But that story is for another time.)
And while on the subject, "field-stripping" a cigarette (an old military trick intended to avoid detection by the enemy—or the drill instructor in boot-camp) is just as bad, if not worse. Not too many people realize that virtually every shred of processed tobacco is a potential source of a deadly agricultural organism known as TSWV (tomato spotted wilt virus). The malady can wreak havoc upon many different varieties in a previously-healthy garden—especially in the veggie patch—causing stunting of plants and a discolored mosaic pattern on the leaves, accompanied by unsightly leaf distortion (puckering). Infected plants must be destroyed—there is no cure, only prevention. So, if you're a smoker, the next time you visit a friend's (or public) garden, whip out a stick of chewing gum...leave the smokes in your pocket.It all boils down to this: treat others, their gardens—and their gardening efforts—with the same kind of respect, gentle honesty, and caring with which you'd like to be treated. Where have I heard that before?!
"Keys to the Garden Gate" -- a downloadable e-Book, has the rest of the story in Chapter 10, "Garden Etiquette"
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