Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy Wilber

October 13, 2016

You can't unsee that

Is ignorance bliss? Sometimes I think so when it comes to spotting horticultural horrors. When we go through Master Gardener training, we learn so much about good horticultural practices. Sometimes, we learn that things we once thought were just fine are actually terribly wrong.

Before I knew better, I thought that "hurricane pruning" palm trees was just the way it was done. Who doesn't love a palm with a mohawk? Or what about crape murder, when the poor crapemyrtle trees are pruned so severely that the remaining trunks are reduced to ugly stubs? Whenever I see a poor, de-limbed tree I just want to hug it and say, "Shh... I know there is a better and more gentle way to prune you."

Remember when volcano mulching didn't bother you? You thought that must be the right way to mulch, because everyone does it. Then you learned that kind of mulching smothers the roots of the plants, creating circling roots and potentially tranforming an innocent tree into a monstrous hazard. Seeing it now, volcano mulching just makes me explode.

In your experience and training, you might have learned what nutrient deficiencies look like. You might not have noticed them before, but they are hard to miss, once you know what manganese or magnesium deficiencies look like on a cycad, or how awful an iron deficiency can render an azalea. You stand there, shaking your head and wondering if you can sneak back later and secretly fertilize the suffering plants.

And if I could choose one thing to never see again, it would be broken irrigation heads. When you understand how precious water is to Florida and how wasteful inefficient irrigation is, you can't help but be slightly aggravated at the sight of a malfunctioning irrigation system.

And don't forget about those quiet invaders. The once-unrecognized bushes covered with beautiful red berries, or those sprawling vines with fragrant, purple flowers have now become public enemy number one in our yards. Once we learn about the evils of invasive plants like Brazilian pepper or Chinese wisteria, we can never appreciate their beauty in the same way.

There are plenty of amazing plants and great landscapes in Florida, but in this month where we celebrate the freaky and scary, I'm fixated on those things that you just can't unsee.

-- Wendy Wilber

Return to the October 2016 Neighborhood Gardener