Landscaping is in large part a very autonomous occupation. That autonomy allows for a lot of time to think. Take it or leave it; here is a place for those thoughts.


It is a common understanding  (or misunderstanding) that "destruction" has a negative connotation while "construction" or "creation" has that of one more positive. In certain contexts I would have to agree with the division of the terms as well as the sides upon which they fall. For instance, there is a massive amount of waste and irresponsibility practiced in modern construction when a football stadium is obliterated because it has been deemed too old after thirty years or so of use. In this case to get the new, the old must be destroyed. But would the extent of the destruction be as necessary if a more cooperative approach between destruction and creation were understood? Or what if those involved in the plans of the stadium were to see destruction and creation as entities intwined and so closely related as to be nearly indistinguishable, rather than mutually exclusive?

In nearly every design build there is something that has to be destroyed in order that something can be created. For a long time I saw these two phases as exclusive of each other. Yet, all garden design is in some sense an attempt to create a small version of the larger, created world. A world in which hurricanes ravage beaches, topping Palm trees and thereby providing new space for a youthful Palm to rise up. A world where fire destroys acres and acres of forests which in turn invigorates, fertilizes and brings about new and vibrant life. Even that larger, created world around us shows over and over again that what humans so often see as violence or destruction versus beauty or creation are actually inseparable and l'd suggest even one. 

Midori Shintani, head gardener at the Tokachi Millenium Forest in Japan, writes it so poetically like this: 
 "I wonder since when I had come to think that nature was a gentle thing. I thought that I knew, but nature is so beautiful that I sometimes can't realize its harsh side.
The storm had raged on and kept running through the Forest for two days. Humble humans often feel guilty about the burden to the natural environment. It is certain in some parts. But I wonder if we really have such a power. Nature is collapsed by itself, no matter how much we face plants and grow them. Nature has been declining and regenerating since long, long before we exist[ed]. Years in the Forest taught me that. Sometimes I miss something gone, but I never be afraid of the truth. I keep grabbing myself developing a feeling, a great awe and love for nature. And we put our hands for the Forest again, when the storm stopped."

When we dig the ground to plant the tree one thing is broken so that another can thrive. And yet the thing broken is actually made more complete. And the small act of the designer, plantsman, gardener is two parts and the same. Creation, "collapsed by itself", something our Sister has been doing "since, long, long before we existed."




In 2018 I started Blue Ox / Gold Fern, (originally just Blue Ox), with the sole service of stump grinding. So with that in mind I figure the first blog post ought to start there.

Below are some fairly solid reasons - a few of which are very valid - to NOT have your stumps ground.

1. You like the way it looks. 

2. You incorporate it into your landscaping. 

3. A chainsaw artist will be commissioned. 

4. You don't want to spend the money. 

5. You live in the woods and stumps are a dime a dozen.

6. While on the way to and fro the mailbox you take pleasure in practicing your tumbling and retrieval skills.

7. You get a kick out of paying for the ER visits for your children and their friends.

8. You're an avid fan of replacing the blade on your mower. Or, even better, you long for opportunities to disassemble the entire mower motor so that you can replace your bent drive shaft.

9. You want to keep a steady supply of termites on hand for your weekend fishing trips.

10. You have plans to replant in the same area and would enjoy nothing better than to spend days hacking and chopping through a piece of timber that has spent the past 75 years establishing itself and its roots in the same space. 

11. You're planning to build a deck and spend thousands of dollars doing so, but want to save $150 by building "around" the stump.

12. And enjoy taking countless trips to the hardware store to purchase kits that over the course of several years will eventually "burn the stump out" only to eventually realize that indeed the stump is still NOT gone.