Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Viking Invasion

This is a non-political post (or at least you have to dig to find the politics in it). Note also that the young maple in that picture is nothing like the huge monsters towering over my little lot. And note that I love trees, I do, I truly do. Not just everywhere.

Shade gardens are lovely in the spring, before the trees are full leafed out. Mother Nature scatters her pearls, sapphires, topazes and rubies in the form of spring bulbs and other spring ephemerals against the new chartreuse leaves and grass. Later, shade gardens turn all green with ferns and hostas to provide "summer interest" as the books say. The cup is full, and the shade gardener can sip from it in the green coolness of shade when the supposedly luckier sun gardeners are suffering from heat stroke.

I am having none of this. Shade gardens are cruel, just like the society is cruel in its adulation of youth and scorn for older ages. Youth and spring are both too fleeting and too inexperienced, as well as too concerned with hormones and growth to provide a proper climax for life, be it vegetable or animal. Besides, I need to have something to look forward to in the garden, and not only during the winter months when gardening is, in any case, impossible in this climate.

Even in the spring a successful shade garden may prove impossible.
Real shade gardens are not always created under wonderful old oak trees with their polite roots or carved out of untouched woodland with its exquisite native flora. Sometimes they are hacked out of the root systems of those fierce fellow Northeners: the Norway maples, which according to the gardening guides, secrete poisonous substances to retard other plant life and cast out such extensive and waterproof canopies as well as such extensive and thirsty root mats that nothing much (except other Norway maples) will survive in their vicinity. I have repeatedly read that shade gardens should not be attempted in such places.

But what if such places are, like the life one has, all there is to garden? Then fell the trees, goes the advice. Self-help books for people provide advice which sounds similar: conquer your monsters, join a twelve-step program, and your garden will blossom.

I can't get my axe or call the tree service, because the Norwegians are not on my land. No amount of self-help will suffice, unless I am willing to break the law. Greedy inconsiderate trees are a societal problem, not a personal one, although perhaps only gardeners are severely affected. But the human ecosystem also contains groups and individuals who secrete poisonous substances to retard the growth of others, or amass such enormous reserves of power and wealth that nothing much can live on what remains. These greedy inconsiderate people are another societal problem, and here everybody is affected.

I believe that these plants and people should be labeled with Government Health Warnings. "I am a ruthless, acquisitive bastard" or "I am a fanatical, rigid tyrant" or something similar would do nicely. Or perhaps they could all be shipped off to more appropriate climates. I am at a loss to think of a suitable place for the humans, but Norway maples are well-behaved, even shy trees in Scandinavia where they belong.

While awaiting these developments, I continue to hack out the roots of Olaf and Svein and Astrid. If I can keep it up, spring will be lovely here, too.