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Natural Perspectives: Hired help for our garden

June 25, 2012|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
(Courtesy Lou Murray )

I think Louann is too embarrassed to admit it, but we have a gardener. Yep, a guy comes to our house twice a month and does yard work.

Louann takes great pride in her garden. But she seems to think that her loyal readers believe that she does all of the work herself. Well, that is almost true. She does all of the vegetable gardening, but most of the hedge trimming, weed removal, and other heavy work is done by our paid gardener.

Why? Because I insist on it. I just can't stand to see the woman doing backbreaking labor on those hot afternoons while I'm inside watching a ball game.

Now you might feel like criticizing me for being too lazy to do gardening. Nothing could be further from the truth. I love working in the garden and wish like heck that I could. But Louann won't let me. The simple truth is that she doesn't trust me. She knows that I have a significantly different vision of our yard from hers.

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She likes the garden to be dense with greenery at all times and in all locations. She doesn't mind that there are virtually no paths between the vegetable beds.

She doesn't mind that the roses extend across the main walkway nearly over to the chicken coop. And she doesn't mind her grapevines growing in front of windows to such an extent that most of her precious garden is invisible from inside the house.

If it were my garden, there'd be a little more room in it for people — at least for me.

And so Louann knows that my No. 1 goal for her garden is to thin it out. If she allows me in there with a tool, I'm going to remove something. And everything in her garden is precious to her. Every fern, every nasturtium, and every one of dozens of potted bromeliads plays some essential role that I am incapable of understanding.

But the gardener? Well, she trusts him. He does what she tells him and nothing more. She says he "gets" her garden of fruit trees, raised beds for vegetables, and California native plants with no grassy lawn to mow.

His visit this week was a little different from usual. He came to the door with an embarrassed look on his face. He had locked his keys in his truck so he couldn't even get out the tools that he needed. He asked for a ride to his house so he could get his spare truck key. Fortunately, I had the afternoon off and was happy to oblige.

He and I hopped into my car and off we went.

"Turn down Gothard," he said. "Then turn on Ellis."

"I live behind Five Points," he said, "on Amberleaf Circle."

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