CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A recent speaker in Charleston talked about processionary caterpillars and juvenile sea squirts. The talk was about changing your point of view, testing your own limits, breaking out of your rut. The speaker was talking to landscapers and gardeners.
The two examples used to describe typical gardeners were quite interesting. First, there are these strange caterpillars that creep, head-to-tail, one behind the other, never veering from the path the leader establishes. They are devouring parts of Europe, and they are poisonous. If you've never seen a video of processionary caterpillars, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBvHLwlhMO8 and watch these lemminglike creatures.
And that sea squirt? The reason it's called juvenile is that it never grows up. Daniel C. Dennett said of the creature: "The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task, it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn't need its brain anymore so it eats it!"
I have gardened just like these creatures -- without using my creative brain, just following what had been done in the past.
Foundation plantings? Check.
Perennial bed? Check.
Vegetables in their own little plot? Check.
White pines in a row to provide privacy? Check.
Tall plants at the back of the garden, short ones in the front? Check.
Shady area filled with hostas? Check.
Pull out the "volunteers" that have planted themselves where they don't belong? Check.
While there's nothing wrong with any of these gardening practices, I found my garden was looking just like everyone else's garden. I'm starting to switch things up a bit, and it makes me smile when I walk around the yard now.