War of the Roses


You see what gardeners go through. It’s a whole fucking planet whirling through the solar system and I can only hope for daily gravity.

I have two of the most interesting trees here, they are evergreen, never shed, slim black trunks -so rare- growing like a kind of Aspen but in one tight group. They reach about twenty feet or more, one at the corner of the side wall by the rock wall, below the general walkway. The other by the same rock wall across the patio, about fifteen feet apart, sweet sentries. The second is also alongside the steps leading up, lightly touching the banister. The leaves are like a spearmint shape, pointed, but green inside, a kind of yellowed pale green, with a full white border on each leaf!  They’re very unusual, I have no idea what they are and can’t find them referenced.

Well like most things here they’d grown down to the ground in a nightmare of dead branch and bramble inside.  I’ve been working on clearing them out. They’ve been trimmed and pruned previously to a huge elongated barrel shape, which, with clearing the bottom, I am changing. In the process the beautiful stone wall is revealed and exposed to sun which makes for more plantings! So the tree shape is changing. Sort of round popsicle-y stemmed. They’re very round. I pruned to about three and a half or four feet up from the bottom, in a kind of swaying, gentle curve, but primarily flat across on the bottom. Then I thought I’d see how high the top went if left to its own devices, but wasn’t liking it much. The tops are visible from the walkway and parking lot. I’d say up to a good twenty feet so far and spurting higher.

Well I got back to the bungalow and Caesar was leaving with all his tools looking pleased with himself and we said hello and I went down the steps and I’m seeing all the green and white leaves and thinking what the hell!!!  Like previous mentioned raccoons, or rutting deer at war in my garden!  Leaves and branches everywhere! What the hell….and then I look at the tops and Caesar had cut them — flat off.

Now a gardener, I have discovered or anyone fitting the bill despite qualities, is no more someone to have truck with than a chef before dinner is served.  You have no idea what you might be in for after starting a war. So I recovered from the invasion, which had me screaming YOU CAN’T DO THIS HOW DARE YOU to nobody at the top of my lungs, and which offended me greatly, swept up and took another look.

I’m very fond of Dr Zeus’s landscapes, they are in fact all over this area, trees pruned into balls and pyramids and inverted who knows, and all delightful. And I was looking at these trees over the past year, knowing I wanted some whimsy to them and had decided about a week ago I’d go for the African veldt silhouette, that kind of wide spread oval high up where growth stays beyond the reaching neck of the giraffe and its large teeth.

But I hesitated doing anything quite so dramatic at the walkway, because the tops of my trees kind of, well, belong to the property in general more than my own garden. (Let anybody try telling ME that). And then tonight Caesar did the work unannounced.

The funny thing is there’s already a history, a delicate first week boundary war.  I saw what he did to everything in the place, square cut and Mohawks, and FORBADE his entering my garden.  I knew it ruffled but I stood my ground and I am quite sure it ruffles every time he’s here when he looks down and instead of geometry sees rambling chaos he cannot understand or like.  In trade I am solicitous, warmly greeting, and sing his praises to all who’ll listen including the landlord with whom he is very close.

So here as if by magic it was almost as if I’d asked him, or whispered the thought. He is now wearing a sense of triumph, and I will be quiet about mine, which arrived sans repercussion. And sweep up the rest of the mess in daylight. And not ask for my bicycle back. I might even try looking slightly wounded for effect.

Caesar and crew are ruthless in gardens. They just trimmed back a daisy hedge near Saddlemaker Bob’s, the size of three buffalo and filled with yellow daisies to the limit. It’s now a smaller green ball. THE FLOWERS ARE GONE. So I don’t even know how they think except as a tenant here said, These are more Aztec invaders than Mexican gardeners.

If he TOUCHES my cherry tree, which he had sawed down to a five foot collection of six and four and eight inch stubs and which, left alone at last, has, since last summer, sent out twelve foot shoots. If Caesar touches that he will pay dearly, et tu Brute all over again.

I may be up to asking Moses to describe to Caesar in their native tongue that I am doing drawings and paintings of the garden, my garden, AS IT IS!!!!! and it greatly disturbs my artistic nature and temperament when things are altered or moved about.  But I’m not convinced Moses could pull it off, he has a limited artistic eye, and then they’d be talking the mother lingo which I could not amend or adjust to my specifications, and it might start a war after all.

You see what gardeners go through. It’s a whole fucking planet whirling through the solar system and I can only hope for daily gravity.

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