Signs of the Times? Plus: Remembering Jack Eden
What does this sign mean, exactly, and would it be dangerous for a motorist to try to follow it?
Here's another sign I saw recently, outside a Staples:
I feel for everyone involved in that particular transaction.
There's the person who designed the "innovative" shredders (he probably once dreamed of bringing clean drinking water to Africa or finding a non-polluting form of renewable energy).
Then there's the marketing people who designed the sign ("Dammit, we've been at this all day and we haven't gotten anywhere! How are we going to describe the new Shredco line of paper shredders?" "Um..." "Yes, Ferguson?" "How about 'innovative'?" "You're a genius, Ferguson! No one would ever think of calling a paper shredder 'innovative.'").
And let's not forget the consumers who bought the shredders. They probably would rather have spent their money on an iPod Touch.
Jack Eden, R.I.P.
There's an obituary of Jack Eden in The Post today. Washingtonians will remember him as the area's most visible gardener, with a radio show on WTOP and a column, "Garden of Eden," in our paper and elsewhere.
The obit details the controversy over Eden's methods. He had the misfortune to be at the height of his popularity just as people's tolerance for chemicals was waning. He was from an older school and his recommendations -- a pinch of this fertilizer, a dash of that pesticide, a bit of weed-killing tincture -- were like the prescriptions of a medieval alchemist.
The thing is, his ways worked. People I knew who used the Eden method on their lawns had lush green thatches of grass that they ascribed to him. At what cost to the environment, I'm not sure.
The back yard of the first house My Lovely Wife and I bought was a muddy track, the lawn destroyed by the previous owner's two German shepherds. When I mentioned to my boss, an Eden acolyte, that I hoped some grass would grow back there, he printed out a series of Eden columns on lawn installation and solemnly handed them to me.
Eden was not one to recommend skimping in the garden. He was dismissive of run-of-the-mill grass seed and counseled getting the good stuff. The same with the straw you were supposed to put down atop the freshly sown seed to keep it from being dislodged by rain or eaten by birds. No common barnyard straw for Edenites.
We were to use something called "salt hay," which if I remember correctly was harvested from the salt marshes of New Jersey by virgins during the full moon. Its prime benefit was that it didn't contain the seeds from weeds. It was practically antiseptic. It was also incredibly expensive.
I never knew what Eden's relationship was with Roozens Nursery, just that whenever he mentioned a product he mentioned that you could get it at Roozens. In fact, I think Roozens was the only place you could this exotic salt hay.
I followed his advice nearly to the letter. I have never been so exhausted. The roto-tilling, the raking, the casting down of seed, the painstaking dispersal of hay, the application of fertilizer, the regular watering: I coined the expression "lawn-tired." To be lawn-tired was to be catatonic from effort and fatigue. (Until we had children, it was the tiredest I'd ever been. Newborn babies are on a whole other level, of course.)
Did my lawn succeed? Sort of. It was better than what we had before but large trees meant it never got enough light to remind anyone of a golf course. Part of the problem, I think, was that I put the hallowed salt hay down too thickly in places, choking off the grass seed underneath. Still, there was enough to mow -- and in a few spots it was quite nice.
Many of us may not approve of Jack Eden's methods these days, but wherever he rests, I hope he's covered with a verdant patch of fescue, free from chickweed, dandelion and spurge.
February 5, 2009; 7:38 AM ET
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