Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Gardening Florida Style

Being from the UK, when I think of gardening I think of cutting the lawn or trimming the hedge or even sorting out the flower beds.

I think of them.....and that's often as far as it goes.

I hate gardening but I love the results. I guess I'd like to be rich enough to have someone do it for me. I had my back garden turned into a patio just so I wouldn't have to cut the grass. I drew the line at having the same done at the front as I do like greenery there. I've noticed over the years that more and more front lawns in my estate ARE being covered over - sometimes to accommodate a 2nd car or even just a larger single vehicle.

Often the owners are older people who are no longer able to cope with a garden and so pave or concrete the lawn. I don't like such gardens. When I'm out walking and see a lovely tidy trimmed lawn and a border of colourful flowers and shrubs, it gladdens my heart. I think of those unfortunates in high rise flats who would love to be able to have a garden.

But like I've said, I'm too lazy to deal with it all. I cut my lawn every week in high summer and that's about it. I have a couple of incredibly hardy rose bushes that despite my care, manage to bloom every year. In my ignorance I've often cut them down to bare stumps but lo and behold, up they come again, spawning beautiful roses as if to poke fun at my accidental attempts to kill them off.

Why does grass have to grow so fast anyway ? That's bad design. I think one should be able to cut it at the start of summer and be done with it till the following year. Come on scientists, sort it out. Genetically modify grass please.

But don't get me started on hedges. A couple of years ago I fell for the old traveller/gypsy con trick and paid £160 to have some Irish speaking family spend 15 minutes giving my hedge a punk rock style makeover that you'd never see in Homes & Gardens. I knew I was being made a fool of while it was going on. I think the 12 year old 'son' who was actually up the step ladder attempting to cut the hedge was one giveaway. He couldn't reach the top for a start. But the clincher was when 'dad' put his arm around my shoulder and said "what on earth have you given us money for to do this to your hedge" ?

He quickly said he was only joking but when they suddenly packed up their few bits of equipment (the stepladder and an old pair of rusty clippers) and high tailed it in their white unmarked van, I stood alone surveying the remains of my hedge and didn't see the joke at all.
I'd only taken up their offer as I was 4 days home from the hospital after my heart attack and I think I was in the middle of a delayed MRSA attack. Every year on the anniversary of the great hedge fiasco, I swear I hear laughter and the squeal of tyres as a white van speeds down the street. It may just be my neighbour of course.

Anyway here in sunny Buttonwood Bay things are slightly different. Yesterday a truck pulled up outside the house next door and I realised I was going to witness something rarely seen in the UK - well outside of Devon/Cornwall at least. My neighbour's palm tree was going to be given a tidy up.

I tried to find an old photo of the tree without the truck blocking the view but any I took of our place, didn't include the tree next door.

So this photo at least shows how overgrown it was as of yesterday. Actually it looked fine to me but what do I know about palm trees ?


So they set up their crane thingy and one of them went up to do the cutting. By the time I thought to capture the event for posterity (and this blog), a few fronds had already disappeared.

Once a frond had been cut away, it was tossed down into the open truck bed and the guy was onto the next one before the discarded one had settled.

No gypsy blood in this guy !!

I have to assume the pair took it in turns to go up and do the trimming as there wasn't much for the guy on the ground to do.

If they'd been in the UK, he'd have been the one catching up on the political news and world events in The Sun and multitasking by wolf whistling at any female going past......despite none here being under 80.

It's actually embarrassing to wolf whistle an octogenarian in more ways than one. For one thing it takes so long for them to go past that you either have to give numerous whistles or else hold the final 'note' for so long that you risk serious injury to your lungs.

Believe me it doesn't happen here a lot......especially as the men are mostly of a similar age and are simply happy to be able to breath at all and don't have surplus air in their lungs or their portable tanks to waste any on whistling.

If you look at Mr Frond Guy closely, you may notice he's wearing thick gloves. There is a very good reason for this - now that I know a little bit more about palm trees.

I've blown up a portion of another photo and if you click to enlarge it, you'll see why he's wearing the gloves.

Palm tree frond stems are deceptively dangerous to the skin. In fact the whole tree is pretty much a non hands zone. The trunk can shred skin when the 2 come together and I shudder to think about the people who scoot up them for whatever reason.

Maybe I'm thinking of coconut trees which have smooth trunks !

I told you I'm clueless about gardening, exotic or otherwise but at least I do know that there is a country called Hungary, Europe isn't a country and that Budapest isn't the capital of France.

There is some hope for me and thanks to Daphne for emailing me that link. But I've digressed.................

I think I'm right in saying that the park is responsible for tree trimming on this side and so there should be no charge involved for the owner of the home. We have a huge tree to the right of our place so if it needs work doing to it, I guess we'll find out then.

Back to this palm tree and by now it was looking like a Mohawk on a bad day. Only a few minutes had gone by and already the difference was striking.

Once he'd cut away the upper fronds, he lowered his cage and started working on the other bits and pieces.

By now I'd connected up my webcam and, thanks to Skype, my friend Daphne was able to sit in her Leeds living room and watch as a palm tree in central Florida was being trimmed.

Who needs television ???

After about 20 minutes the deed was done and the truck moved away.

This is a photo of the trimmed tree and I have to say, I liked the old tree better. It somehow LOOKED more like a palm tree should look. This denuded thing seems like a cross between a feather duster and one of those pencils kids use with a troll stuck on the end of it.

It's just not aesthetically pleasing.

At least I'll be able to see how fast it all grows back but I'm sure it won't need to be trimmed again for a long long time.

Maybe that's why there are no gypsies in Florida.


Daphne said...

Hello from the country of Europe. It was great fun being out in the Florida sunshine, if only by webcam, and watching the palm tree being trimmed and then the sunset. Sighhhh. Never mind the tree, O ye chilly Brits, look at the colour of the sky!
That same family as in your hedge story removed all the ivy from our garage two years ago and swore they'd got all the roots out and it wouldn't grow back.
You can't see the garage for ivy now.

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