Monday, October 17, 2005

Wisteria Hysteria

I was warned. Eddie warned me when he first talked to me about this job. He needed someone to guard the garden as he couldn't be there all the time. He told me several horror stories about one of the part-time gardeners, including the time she started randomly cutting the thick trunks of the 100 year old wisteria covering a long arbor, the showpiece of the garden. The gardener then justified her actions to Eddie claiming the top foliage was dead, even though the vine was very much alive until she snipped it off. Of course, at 80 years old she couldn't climb up and remove the entangled, now dead, vines.

But I was enchanted by the garden, the site, the history of the garden and the challenge of restoring it. And I wasn't too concerned about this gardener because I've managed people for many years, some who were very difficult.

Oh, but my eyes have been opened.

The first week was uneventful. The next week, when I got to work, I discovered that she (hereinafter known as Slaughterer) had been pruning the wisteria for over an hour. Slaughterer has an interesting pruning technique, reaching up and snipping the middle of any vine that catches her eye, even though these plants are mature enough to have clearly defined collars where the vine leaves the trunk. The other gardener, a gentle woman in her 70s, was ineffectively trying to stop her. Slaughterer emphatically stated how much she disliked wisteria. I managed to convince her to take a break and we went into the garden shed (an original structure) to research how to prune wisteria. We agreed (I thought) not to prune it until after it bloomed and to contact the horticulture guru at the Extension for guidance.

On my way back to the garden, I happened to see Eddie and filled him in on the morning's murderous activity. He meandered over as we were discussing how to apply what we just learned to the arbor wisteria. While we were filling him in (and I subtly set-up Slaughterer to respond so she would have some ownership in the decisions), she reached over his head and snipped another vine! And then she reached over my head to snip a vine. Was I going to have to tackle this woman to keep her from mutilating if not killing the cherished arbor plantings?

The saga continues. More tomorrow.

I was reticent to blog about this at first, thinking it was resolved, but after a month, my gardening gloves are off. I have little hope that the story has ended yet.

1 comment:

Lucy said...

I'm sorry you have stress. On the other hand, how fortunate (for her)that YOU'RE the one dealing with her. Because I would choke the life out of her. (Its possible I'm having a hormone moment :)

Maybe you could tell her that the wisteria is being experimented upon, and she MUST not get near it. That worked for a friend at a university program growing tomatoes from seeds from the shuttle who had a problem with the janitorial staff picking all the tomatos at night thus preventing the fruits from being weighed and observed.

Maybe you could tell her that her talents are needed elsewhere in the garden, and assign her to the parking lot.

Maybe you could assign her a junior-volunteer to "learn" from her experience, while really watching her like a hawk!

Maybe you could call her family and point out that she seems ... troubled ... by the wisteria and suggest she see a doctor.