Archive for December 18th, 2007

Someone else’s Garden

Posted on December 18, 2007. Filed under: Musings, Science |

I was weeding in my front garden today. (Yes, weeding in December.  That’s the desert for you, even in the northern hemisphere).  I found myself trimming the Desert Spoon yet again.  This thing shouldn’t need trimming at all.  In open desert it grows big and round to about 4 feet in diameter, then just sort of stays there, putting up a fast-growing spike every couple of years to propagate itself.  I think plants like these should be left alone, for the most part, but someone years ago (not ME!) planted the ‘spoon right in front of my kitchen window.  If I didn’t trim it’s spiky leaves back, periodically, it would poke visitors in the leg–or maybe even more uncomfortable spots–as they came up the walk to my door.  I may not be the most hospitable person in the world, but I really don’t want someone grabbed at and punctured on their way to have a cup of tea.


When I first moved here, as part of my “welcome new resident” package, I was given a list of plants “allowed” to fill the small spaces between the concrete and the door.  Fair enough.  The HOA (“Home Owner’s Association”, although I like to pronounce just the acronym) has in mind sustaining the natural desert environment and promoting the use of low water plants.  I have no quarrel with having a list of plants (less decisions), although I will say after seeing garden after garden with the same plants arranged slightly differently, it gets a bit old.

My issues are that the builder (probably) or the original owner (less likely) picked out the landscaping when the place was built some 16 years ago, long before I lived here.  Someone had the idea to put a cute little Desert Spoon in front of the window, surrounded by the inevitable “river rock”.  Now, it is well known around here how big these plants get.  It’s also known that they grow fairly quickly.  So, why, one asks, would they plant one of these monstrosities (if in my garden) or nice desert bushy-things (if out in the desert) in such a small space?

I believe it’s because they are readily available, inexpensive, and fill space without too much thought.  They look neat and tidy when first planted, and probably add to the building’s “curb appeal”.  When I first moved in, I had a professional landscaper evaluate the garden, and asked about having the Desert Spoon removed.  ‘No!’, she shrieked.  (All right, she didn’t actually shriek, but did say “No” in a louder-than-normal voice).  “It’s a nice desert plant”, she said.  She actually refused to remove it.  I pointed out that a) It is MY garden, and b) I don’t like the plant, but she remained unmoved.  As did the plant.


Some of the cactus varieties in my area are actually protected, like that symbol of the American Southwest, the Saguaro. (pronounced Saw-hwah-roh).  One must get permission to move one of those, as they are endangered.  But, trust me, Desert Spoons are a dime a dozen.  They are also notoriously difficult to remove, once they have a strong root hold.

I do not engage the services of that particular landscaper anymore, and I have asked myself the question “Why, if it’s my garden, in front of my home, do I have things in it which I don’t like?”  I believe these things affect our mental states in sometimes subtle ways.  I have pledged to remove “that which I do not want” from my life in 2008, and, believe me, this plant is on my list.  If any of you are wanting a nice Desert Spoon plant to add to your (large) sunny landscape, let me know.  Mine’s free to a good home.  You just need to bring your own backhoe.

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