Gardening: ‘It has only been three months’

Eileen Ward

Well the holidays are upon us. It is a beautiful time of year with holiday decorations and friends and family.

The weather for the most part has been perfect. If you are from the north, like I am, the warm weather is a little off putting. I prefer cold and snow with my Christmas but I have come to accept the tropical weather of the season. I decorate my palm tree with lights and it is a beautiful sight to behold.

On a more somber note, this season is not so merry for a lot of people in our area. I was very fortunate that my home and business did not suffer any significate damage from Hurricane Irma. But many will not be celebrating in their homes this year.

File: The Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department assesses the damage caused by Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Irma made landfall on Marco Island on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.

Most of Marco Island is very lucky that we escaped the dreaded storm surge of 15 feet as predicted. If that had happened most of us would not be living in our homes for the holidays. So continue giving to the charities that are the relief effort for those who were more unfortunately affected than you. You can give $45 at the check- out at Publix and give a family of four a Christmas dinner. And I know that the Marco Patriots are still active. What local heroes they are! Give, give and give. Many of your neighbors are in trouble and they need help. Look around and help where you can. You all know what the amount of the deductible on the wind insurance.

So with that important message said I want to talk about the landscapes on Marco and the companies that maintain them. The aftermath of Hurricane Irma was a shock to anyone who was here immediately following the storm. The landscape debris was unfathomable. I was in the business following the last two major storms, Andrew and Wilma, and they did not compare the destruction wrought by Irma. We spent the first month removing loose debris from the yards. The next month was spent trimming damaged trees, cutting back and staking damaged trees and shrubs and trying to rake debris from the garden beds and removing roof tiles, etc. from the landscape.

File: Marco Island, one month after Irma.

Then those who did not return immediately began to return. They did not see the catastrophic damage and so do not understand the clean- up effort we all went through for the last three months. To them it seems that it has been three months and all should be back to normal. Why are there dead branches hanging from my trees? Why are there still tree stumps in my yard? What is this mess under by shrubs in the garden?  What are you going to do about my leaning shrubs and trees?

I have actually had customers say “But it has been three months.” To that I say “But it has only been three months.”

File: Marco Island, one month after Irma.

I am also so sorry to be so long in getting back to you when you call to have these things rectified.  There are more voicemails a day than one can respond to. It is also impossible to hire help right now. They are all doing roof repairs and other construction jobs. Greensward is shutting down between Christmas and New Year’s Day so my employees and I can all take a deep breath and relax. I believe most landscape companies will be doing the same. If they aren’t they should. When we return on Jan. 2, be patient and kind to us as we have been through a lot the last three months. And also know that your happiness and your beautiful landscape is a top priority for all of us in the new year. We will be rested and ready to get it all back to normal for everyone as quickly as we can you so that you will go through the season looking beautiful again.

So to all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! And my thoughts are with those who will not have a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays but will hopefully have a better new year.

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Eileen and Peter Ward have owned a landscape and lawn maintenance company for 35 years. Eileen can be reached at Gswdmarco@comcast.net or 239-394-1413.