While driving around residential neighborhoods this week, I encountered many landscaped common areas in subdivisions that have been decorated in keeping with the changing seasons and/or the holidays..
It’s fascinating to consider the personality of the subdivision as demonstrated in the decorations of these areas.
- If the landscape at the entrance signs is a study in low green shrubs such as yaupon, fronted with white, yellow and purple pansies, the neighborhood presents itself as cautious, conservative, and frugal. It says, “We always plant reliable displays like pansies, and we want the installation to last all winter.”
- If the landscape at the entrance plays up tough and solid shrubs like conical junipers with traditional swaths of silvery ropes and tiny lights, the landscape says, “This neighborhood is traditional.”
- If the landscape uses strings of synchronously moving lights to simulate a waterfall, interspersed with red lights shaped like bows, that entrance says, “We’re very modern and conservationist, and we want everyone to know it.”
So when I saw the decorated agave featured in this week’s blog photo, I wondered if we have taken decorating nature too far as a society. In this example, the ornaments have been tied onto the agave’s leaves above the leaf end, so the thorns keep the string from sliding off. The ornament colors – bright and muted silvers, white, and red – are certainly attractive against the blue-gray color of the agave.
But the ornaments are light and can be blown about by the wind. How will the leaves fare as the ornament flips up and down and the string slides along the leaf edge between thorns? Are the ornaments an “attractive nuisance” to kids, tempting tugs and pulls when they walk by? And how does wildlife react to this display?
Is there a place for oddities like well-ornamented agaves in the landscape? I think approaches like decorating nature do have a place - in a homeowner’s yard. Special arrangements that take advantage of plants you love can present your "face" to the neighborhood, whether it's stolid or silly. It allows you to poke gently at onerous neighborhood requirements for exterior decorating without expecting everyone to go along. Your yard should be a place for joy and laughter, or at least for delight, in all seasons. It should help you stay stress-free, strengthen your memory, and sustain your health.