I just finished whacking to the knees some kind of ornamental grass that grows about ten feet tall in the summer and waves its dry, feathery heads at me all winter. I don’t like it. Well, I do like it from a distance, I don’t like it next to my driveway where poison ivy can hide and stalks fall over to get in the way of cars. Its circumference ever expands while its middle slowly dies away.
But my personal battle with ornamental grass is another story. My subject here is my own anatomy and the anatomy of gardeners in general. It seems that evolution has not been on our side. I spent a couple hours bent over, shoulders hunched; I pushed my fingers to the limit hacking away with the garden shears. At the end of the session I brought the grass to its knees but I was a wreck. If the fates were more considerate, gardeners would not have stiff backs that don’t bend very far. They would have backs like inch worms that can perform an effortless 360.
Now that I think about it, there are a number of evolutionary developments that would greatly enhance a gardener’s life. To begin with, we should have wings. That would save a lot of unnecessary trampling on helpless plants when a gardener with only legs and size ten feet tries to reach the back of the bed. How lovely it would be to hover overhead, reaching down to pluck a naughty weed without disturbing innocent seedlings that have recently pushed up their bright green heads.
If wings are not an evolutionary option, I would vote for telescoping limbs, both legs and arms. Although not as perfect as the wing evolvement, it would enable swift and orderly handling of many garden chores, particularly if we were given more than two arms. Let’s say four. A gardener may be on the way to deadhead a bed of pelargonium, only to notice that the periwinkle is being choked by wild strawberries. One telescoping arm could pull up the nasty berries while a telescoping leg could hop on over to the pelargoniums to give another two hands the deadhead job. With one more hand ready to work, there is no telling how good that garden could look.
As it is, evolution has turned a blind eye to gardener’s needs by giving us only two clumsy feet and one stiff back. The current state of garden affairs leaves us lowering our head and hands as far down to the ground as possible and propelling our backsides into the air. That is not a pretty sight for the birds effortlessly flying overhead.