The abuse I'm talking about comes in many forms. I have folks who leave trash wherever they please. I have folks who carve their initials into all my artistic benches and structures. I have folks who steal the plants right out of the ground, leaving nothing but a hole behind. I have folks who walk right through the planting beds to get a closer look at or a photograph of a plant. I have parents who let their children roam free through the garden, whether they stay on the paths or not. I have botany professors who dissect my flowers in full view of garden visitors and then say they aren't doing any harm. I have school groups whose chaperones would rather whistle in the wind and look the other way than EVER discipline a child about their loud, obnoxious, disrespectful or destructive behavior in the garden. I have folks who create shortcuts through my beds because they're too lazy to go a few minutes out of their way. In short, I have a plethora of people who have no idea what they're doing: bit by bit, destroying a natural treasure that has taken 30 years to create. How are they destroying it? Well, I'm glad you asked.
Any time you set foot off the path in the Blomquist garden, you are killing plants. If you aren't stepping on a visible plant, you are trodding on a dormant one beneath the leaf litter or compacting the soil next to one, thus damaging that plant by association. Trash, graffiti or carvings take my time to remove or repair, thus taking time away from other tasks such as gardening. Disciplining children and college students about destructive behaviors take my time
and raise my blood pressure, both of which reduce my productivity in other tasks such as, say, gardening. Replacing dead plants that have been stepped on or killed due to soil compaction caused by foot traffic take me away from things like gardening. A month ago I spent two days repairing a wanton act of vandalism to a part of our irrigation system. Nothing was stolen, just broken beyond recognition for no reason other than just plain random stupidity. That's two days not spent gardening. These types of examples are not anecdotal. One or more of them happen on a weekly basis. Why? I ask myself that all the time.
The optimistic answer is that they simple know not what they do. If they truly appreciated how much attention and dedication went into producing the garden they're visiting, (not on my part, Mother Nature's) they surely wouldn't do it, would they? I mean, even the irrigation pipe smasher person, if he or she knew what a special place the Blomquist Garden was, how it is a living museum of nature's wonder,they wouldn't still smash, would they? Well, some of them would. We'll probably never be totally rid of the carvers and smashers. What about the plant smooshers, stealers and clippers? How do I get them to stay on the paths and leave their trowels and pruners at home? I'm serious, how do I get the public to respect the garden?
Don't get me wrong, as is usually the case, the few can often distract us from the respectful many. Most of the people who come to the garden know how to act. How do I deal with
and educate those who don't? This is not a rhetorical question. I would love to hear from folks who work in public settings about how they handle situations like these, and more importantly, what strategies they use to head them off (effective public information campaigns, etc.) I look forward to hearing from as many folks as possible.