LETTERS: Destroyed gardens leave wake of heartbreak in Caz

To the editor:

Whereas loss is a universal experience, for seniors losses of particular kinds — health, friends, mobility — are especially keen and make it imperative for them to maintain holds on the pulse of life through active engagement with both the physical world and human contact in any ways that they can.

So it was that we, a community of seniors living in housing owned by USDA Rural Development, happily tended the shrubs and perennials that we had inherited from previous gardeners or bought on our own and planted anew in the foundation beds surrounding our residences at Carriage House Village Apartments in Cazenovia.

Until Friday June 8, when Baldwin Management wrenched control of our gardens from us.

All week long rumors of top-down intervention in our gardens came to us through lower-level managers, and individually each of us asserted strongly our right to determine the appearance of our gardens ourselves since we are the ones who have taken care of them. Some of us welcomed help in weeding and planting, yet control was still to reside with each of us, we insisted.

But we were bullied out of the way by workers on Friday, who cut down rose bushes, ripped out or weed-whacked daisies and poppies, and smothered other perennials in several inches of red bark mulch, despite our objections and dismay.

Apparently, the workers could not understand the deliberate disorder of our cottage gardens; the wildness of our biodiverse native plantings baffled them. The insubordination of the 25-year old mugho pine’s horizontal branching must have threatened their need for conformity, so they destroyed it entirely by cutting it down to the ground and hauling away its debris.

Thoughtful, skilled pruning of juniper and arborvitae to maintain the feathered-appearance of the branching sprays was beyond their comprehension, so they sheared all of the conifers into densely-grained lumps, making them appear like huge green meatballs. In the end, order of a kind was achieved. A sterile uniformity has replaced the richly textured and brightly colored plantings that we had created.

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