Friday, 17 February 2012

Not so soft landscaping

I've often wonder why they call it 'soft landscaping' when you decide to attack trees and shrubs and even dig borders, for that matter, with gusto. It aint 'soft', its hard work. Whilst I know 'technically' why we call it 'soft landcaping, its always perplexed me that statement, there's nothing 'soft about it! I had the good fortune to help teach a bunch of 'agri' students about 'soft landscaping' earlier in the week. Whilst I'm sure they were as amused as I was by this wee wumman armed with a purple trug bucket of very sharp implements all nicely oiled and sharpened. (Hastily done prior to class, after I'd seen the shoddy state I'd left a good few of my tools in, do as I do 'quickly' not as I do normally, the motto there.) 

The phrase 'soft landscaping' doesn't help allude to the hard work that gardening is. Whilst the phrase 'lasses tak' care o' a gairden' was not muttered but gardening, it was generally thought, prior to action, was for us more delicate types. That well intentioned banter and gibes at gardening didn't last long. They appeared somewhat amused when I said not to tog up too much, we'll be getting warm, and quickly. And we did. I don't think folk appreciate the hard work that gardening is. As a hobby or pastime they decided it wasn't for them, too much hard work unless you're sitting on a mower, I was informed, then it was fun

Two hours later, 15m of a mixed shrub and tree border later, one gate rediscovered, two humongous trailer loads of shrubbery and tree limbs gathered...... (yup we DO have trees on Orkney, generally those trees requiring most lopping are the humble sycamore, weed like in Orkney, Acer pseduoplantanus) and that was us going gently. As much as sycamores are weed like here, lets face it a trees a tree and we've not THAT many here - so we 'caw canny' when dealing with any type of tree here, sycamore or not. Better to have a tree in a wrong place and pruned to fit, than to get rid of it completely. After all, we haven't got many trees here and with trees we have height and a canopy for birds (and somewhere to nicely catch the plastic bags in gales).

We even managed a bit of an all round session on which tool use for which task (no not a digger and uproot the lot, but nice idea!) how to prune smaller branches and how to carefully cut bigger ones, they really got the hang of it quickly. No tools lost, a bit of banter and chat through the session, then a conscientious tidy up. What they achieved in a couple of hours impressed even them.  As they were leaving they were asking........'How much does a gardener make.........?', maybe not only for us delicate types after all eh? Never underestimate the hard work that goes into even 'soft landscaping', nor what can be achieved in a couple of hours WITHOUT the use of a digger to flatten everything! 

I of course went hope amused, happy and tired. Collapsing in a heap on the sofa at 6pm, by 6.15pm I'm told I wasnoring. Early night followed! Why on earth do they call it soft landscaping......?????


  1. TOTALLY agree with you there - it definitely ain't soft!! My back is killing me and I have muscles I didn't know I had after all the work I've been up to in my wee plot!! x

    1. Rightly so - I haven't worked that hard in a while. Shows me why I'm not designed for sitting at a computer all day! I really enjoyed it. Nice to see you Teri.

  2. That's what minions are for. I just turn up for the tea and occasional planting. Still headhunting for Assistant Head Gardener (Boss of all Minions). Up to 10 hours a week from April/May - October. My people will contact you as you and your wellies are top of the shortlist.

    1. Simon, someone needs to train those what do, how to do, to let them do a proper job. Boss of Minions sounds appealing and I do like tea and occassional planting - if only I HAD 10 hours a week gainfully unemployed.

      Sorry to say, I'm at capacity with my own current work load, dear fellow - unless your gardening requirements due those very light summer nights are for the hours of 1am-6am...........which having checked my diary aren't currently occupied.

      Unless of course one of my current gardens 'what I do for' dies, in which case I'll have a space, if I'm ever employable again.........

      Want me to spread the word?

  3. I remember some Orcadian guy being put out that we were planting trees as it ruined the view (in his opinion)
    BTW There's an apple tree needing pruned here, Fay...

  4. Nowt soft about it! Though it is immensely satisfying. I could never be a tree surgeon though, all that crazy hanging around tree limbs in harnesses brandishing a chain saw and hoping you aren't cutting the limb you are swinging from...

  5. Is there any further reading you would recommend on this?

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