Crap shearing of plants that don't deserve it: Garden UFOs

I've thought highly of the Air Force for once upon a time installing natives plants at LA Air Force Base. Unfortunately, it seems like they contracted to install the plants, but not for their upkeep: I've watched as at least 50% of the plants failed due to improper followup after installation and were replaced by less interesting plants. Those that haven't failed have suffered from improper upkeep. Take these shrubs as an example:

They look like an invading armada of garden UFOs.  Can you guess what the very geometrically sheared inverted cone shaped shrubs are? I'll tell you that next to the sidewalk is what appears to be a 'Canyon' selection of Artemesia Californica. It is doing well. To the right at the corner is a scattered plot of native Iris (undoubtedly a hybrid, but I don't know which one). Unfortunately, in mid summer both the Iris and the Artemisia tend to look tired. The cone-shaped plant was clearly intended to counter-balance the others in summer with its dense green foliage.  What is it?

If you haven't guessed what it is, I'll tell you after the break.


That's right.  This ought to be an attractive, large, and dense shrub with beautiful blue / white flowers in the spring.  It will never be more than the worst kind of garden UFO you can imagine if they continue to prune it like this.  Perhaps they are permanently ruined.  Pruning started in front of the AF sign on the wall to make the AF sign more visible (This was a design issue - they should have known the sign would be obscured when installing these plants).  Now all the plants get what must be a monthly haircut.

Don't do this:  It looks terrible and it's bad for the plant. 


  1. We have similarly unfortunate ceanothus at Monterey hotels and parks. I've been laughing so hard at your series of misprunings and misplantings. Your pet peeve should be made into a cartoon of all your UFO/alien associations with plants that simply should not be shaped/placed the way you've found them.

  2. There is nothing more exhilarating than pointing out the stupidity in others.
    ~author unknown~ (but a sentiment we've all shared at one time or another)

  3. Thank you, Katie and Lisa. It's a fun break to be a critic from time to time.