World war two has ended. The boys are home and they are buying new homes and starting families. The suburbs are born. Good times for America. Now everyone can have a car, a dog, a swing set and kids.
Most of these homes came with a lawn, a few foundation shrubs and maybe an ornamental or a shade tree in the front yard. And I suspect that the landscape plantings and turf went unnoticed until the shrubs became rangy and the turf overgrown all by way of neglect. Unfortunately the majority of these new suburban dads/homeowners had moved out from the cities and had very little gardening skills. And this is where the problem was born.
I imagine that on any given Saturday they ventured out to the local hardware store and asked the salesman for his advice on what tool they needed for trimming the shrubs. I’m sure he showed them hand pruners and shears. In their hand the pruners looked tiny and they probably imagined that the task of trimming the shrubs would take hours to do with this small tool. But on the other hand the shears were larger and took two hands to operate and would probably be two to three times faster then the hand pruners. It was this information this logic and moments like these that spread like wild fire through the new suburbs. What ensued was a tool designed only for trimming/shearing hedges, now being used for cutting and trimming and shearing every living thing on the property. The problem grew darker still. Where did the new home owners learn how to trim? The new home owners had no frame of reference to draw on. There were no landscaping companies. No internet and very few libraries to obtain reference material.
They drew on their subconscious mind. And what bubbled up from the depths of their grey matter were the things they encountered visually everyday. So weeping Japanese yew with soft evergreen needled limbs, which visually mimic green clouds tumbling towards the ground, are sheared into what look like coffee tables. Dense spreading yews with their feathered evergreen ends are sheared into stereo cabinets or worse still, into bedroom dressers. Golden forsythia and Canadian hemlock that dance and move in the wind are sheared into Refrigerators and China cabinets. The blooms from early spring flowering azaleas and hydrangeas were forever lost due to being sheared again and again into basketballs beach balls and end tables. This garden tree and shrub desecration went on for decades. The mantle of this damage was passed on to the sons of the father. And the mayhem continued but now the simple hand shears have become electrified and the transformation from plants to furniture was happening at lightening speed.
From grandfather to father to son, today this form of garden maintenance seems to be the norm for many, many homes and commercial properties in New England. Even the so called landscape maintenance professionals are guilty of carrying on the tradition of tree and shrub disfigurement. Not only is it unattractive it stresses and weakens the plantings which allows disease and garden pests to flourish.
These methods and practices have been going on non-stop for nearly 70 years. They need to be derailed and dismantled.