It is a maxim central to the human and natural experience; Order requires destruction. Yin requires Yang. Not every time mind you, but often enough that it is a central tenant of literature and culture. In this case, we created parterre garden beds with the intention of adding a boxwood knot garden and a simple beneficial herbs garden at Mezzacello. Over the winter – even with a layer of acid promoting pine mulch – a forest of clover had sprung up in the parterre. Not a big deal. Clover sets nitrogen from the atmosphere, so it’s not the worst weed to over winter with, but eventually it needs to go. The fastest way to kill clover is with fire. So I took a flame thrower to this bed. It now looks like an ash blank canvas.

Now the surface is prepared and the nitrogen fixing roots remain. The next step is to square up the lines of the parterre. That’s what is happening with the white strings. Then we’ll reset the lines of the parterre. Finally we’ll use a gas auger to mechanically drill all 32 of the 8” x 8” holes for setting the gallon boxwood plants. Then we’ll finish the bed off with pine mulch. After we stabilize the boxwood ecosystem, we’ll start creating the soil amendments and nutrients necessary for the herbs in the triangles of the knot garden. But it all starts with fire, effort, vision, and ash.

Using a flamethrower to destroy the clover and reset the system. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello
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