Posts Tagged ‘Cutting Back by Leslie Buck’

Monday, 15 May 2017

I did not mind in the least that we had a cold, rainy, windy day off, because I had an excellent book to read.  Karla from Time Enough Books had lent me an advanced reading copy. I had started it recently at one chapter a day.  It was much better to be able immerse myself for a whole afternoon in the world of gardening in Japan.


I had been immediately interested in Ms. Buck’s description of the difference between public gardening in California and Japan:



And that was just the preface.  I am completely smitten by this book and consider it perfect in every way, as it tells a very personal story along with expert advice about pruning and about techniques to make every inch of a garden impeccably beautiful.

More, from later in the book, about the respect given to gardeners:




And not just designers are given respect:



I do remember quitting a garden once when I was supposed to follow the design of a landscape designer with absolutely no personal input (or respect).  Especially when I heard that said designer was famous among jobbing gardeners for planting everything too close together.

I learned a new way to think about Japanese gardens, quite different from some of my assumptions:



The passage below reminded me of how I have never adopted the term “master gardener” and feel uncomfortable when people call me that (even though I did once take the Master Gardener class with its 56 hours of training and volunteer time):



The hard work impressed me, in all weather, including winter cold.  While I no longer work such long hours, and in all weather, I used to (although I never did start at dawn, making my winter hours much shorter than the ones Leslie worked at age 34 in Kyoto).


When given the choice of taking rain days off, she was determined to work as hard as the rest of the crew.


This is one reason why today, I felt a bit guilty in my comfy chair reading a wonderful book, knowing that our good friends Dave and Melissa (Sea Star Gardening) still work in all weather.

Throughout the book, I identified with the hard work of full time gardening.



…carry thorns and sticky sap that attracts dirt and sometimes causes infection.”

Later: “We loved pruning, touching the plants directly.  We both understood the monetary and physical sacrifice of working on behalf of nature.”

When I read the following passage, I asked Allan to go across the street to the J’s and give the three small struggling hydrangeas a good dose of Dr Earth fertilizer.  (I could not leave my book, you see.)


I learned of a new-to-me product, cuffs to wear over one’s wrists while pruning to protect from scratches.  If only I had thought of this while weeding among the rugosa roses in the beach approach garden.  This could save much pain in the future.  (I cannot weed in heavy rose gauntlets, but protective cuffs would be just the thing.)

I found some for sale in New Zealand.  I’ll keep searching for some closer to home.



an excellent concept

I was reminded in the following passage of private clients of the past who treated us well:


She had some especially kind clients:


A later passage reminded me of a recurring problem in private gardening: bathroom access.  A few clients immediately would offer us use of their bathrooms.  Others would never think of it even if we were there all day.

I learned a new term, one that explained why I often teared up while reading about Leslie’s gardening experiences:



Author Keane also said the original Japanese word for gardening includes “humans in nature as an inherent and indivisible part of it.”

I could hardly bear for the book to end.  It is rare to read the story of a hard working gardener, whether a highly skilled pruning specialist like Leslie or a maintenance gardener like many I know.  Her descriptive prose beautifully captures the gardens where she worked, and her pruning advice is invaluable and will prove to be of great use and inspiration to me.  I had to stop many times to ponder what she had written and, especially toward the end, to feel some deep emotion.  (A passage that mentioned President Obama brought actual tears.)


It was a good day for Smokey, as well.

I think that during gardening season, it would help me to only read gardening books, for inspiration.

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