AUTHOR: CORNELIS DE JONG
What is the difference between a gardener and a landscaper, you ask? Allow me to scratch in the dirt:
I am an avid gardener - weather and time permitting. As a gardener, you always learn something, even if you think you’ve had it figured out before. Gardening is truly a trial-and-error turned definite-success-over-time effort. For the true gardener, the garden is something you observe and feel and visualize - there is always something to correct, and no real garden is on auto-pilot with the gardener launching the plants-into-flight one year and sitting back for a snooze the following year. You’ve got to constantly trim and track – stay ahead of the plan!
It should be said that I suffer from no illusion as to what can be done with two hands and what should be done with 20 hands, load-hauling equipment, and a motivational speaker yelling pull-pull-pull! I prefer to do most garden efforts myself, but I have an appreciative relationship with landscapers.
Cabonnay moved onto its new land this year. It was rough and forgotten and we have to now tame it and bring it back to life. I have a firm belief that every true garden should have “owners footprints” in them, and it was clear to me the previous owner had none in the garden. The barren overgrowth that we faced when we moved in was overwhelming: Sometime in the past 10 years someone planted daylilies but corn stalks and tall grass took root next to the daylilies. Tall grasses also overwhelmed curbs, commercial red mulch 5 inches thick spilled over onto parking spaces, Red Spirea bushes were unrecognizable between the over growth, and the few ornamental trees branched and blocked parking. Someone started something somewhere, but stopped. The challenge we face is we have to make it our own and fix this barren land into something beautiful – something that is so Cabonnay! That’s easier said than done as making the land your own, a.k.a. true gardening, is years of work, not a weekend-landscaper-install, and it’s certainly not something you mathematically outsource with a few drawings – but we have to start somewhere and the Landscapers are the foundation for that.
This month, Cabonnay is finishing the initial clean-up job, what I call getting a hold on the lascivious landscape, with landscaper help. I appreciate the landscapers - they can cut and remove debris or create a patio in a half-day with sand, rock, slate and grout that apparently have no weight to them. A crew creates a garden bed in 3 hours that would take me 3 weeks. Yes, there’s a place for the landscaper, and yes, if you want some significant hardscaping done, need structure, and need help with it, and if you can afford it (they are not cheap), you should call a landscaper. But, don’t make the mistake thinking that landscapers are top-tier gardeners. Absolutely not! In my experience, landscaping all too often means grade the soil, plant a bush, and spray in mulch, run irrigation and, trimming a tree, shrub or bush, with commercial equipment all too often means “shortening it.” Landscapers in my opinion create the foundation that gardeners build on.
If you want a true garden, after as-needed landscaping, you need to be a gardener yourself! Gardening simply is not directing your wishes to a crew that won’t do the research or due diligence and therefore plant Petunias in soggy shady soil, just because you said “you wanted some color.” Gardening is not signing legal release forms for fertilizer-spraying and pesticide-bombing events. A Gardener guides nature – it’s having the gentle hand of a caretaker that fosters and environment for ideal growth - it’s not the systematic invasion of the lands. At Cabonnay, we now have to garden. We’ll start with plant selection suitable for our environment and keep you updated. It’s a journey that we hope you will enjoy with us
The intricacies and rewards of the true gardener, gardening, are myriad. Go ahead, get the landscapers working, but thereafter, plant your own pots, in your color and in your flair. Scrape the dirt out from underneath your nails at night, and yes, it’s perfectly normal to be sad when the plants you carefully sprouted from seed, fail. Cabonnay will garden – this month, the next months, next year, and years to come. We hope you will grow with us. So what is the difference between a gardener and a landscaper? Simply put: Gardeners have heart. Landscapers have stone.