Friday, August 14, 2009

Horticulture and Loose Coupling

My wife and I bought a beautiful new home late last year. It wasn't my idea, for I had been paying attention to the news, I work for a bank, and my dad is a Realtor. The input from these three source instilled one very rock solid data point into my knowing places - now is not a good time to sell your home! As it turned out, it was an exceedingly good time to buy a new home, but we were not in a position to carry multiple mortgages (college age kids, wouldn't you know). Sara was undaunted - and I'm pretty much committed to following her wherever she goes. What can I say, she was right and we exchanged an 80 year old house for a new one; downsized but upgraded.

So we have our shiny new home, with shiny new landscaping, and shiny new deer to infest our lawn and digest the lower half of the taller organic decorations. One particular tree, a Hemlock (not the poison bush kind) was especially attractive to the indigenous animal traffic, and before the first winter was a third over the tree was half gone. As a child I loved Bambi, and all of her relatives. As an adult I am no longer so afflicted. I have thoughts, desires, and aspirations which would (I'm sure) satisfy the retirement fund of at least one Psychologist.

After consulting with a number of plant and tree professionals, we came to the conclusion that the tree was not salvageable as anything but a deer trap. It had to go. The good news is that it was only four years old and so (here comes the insight from the experts) the roots won't have had time to escape the root ball. For the horticulturally-challenged, let me explain that when one plants a tree the roots are neatly packaged in a burlap sack (a ball), all tied up neatly so as to easily fit into an easily dug hole (another topic for another rant). Over time, a long, long time so I'm told, the roots will poke through the burlap and take hold in the ground. Since mine was a mere toddler in tree-years, barely into Tree-dergarden, popping it out of the ground would be child's play.

In the vernacular of an architect, the root ball should have been properly coupled and elegantly cohesive. In other words, the object I was trying to remove should have been able to exchange the necessary moisture and nutrients through the burlap root ball (it's interface), without regard to the surrounding environment (i.e. brown dirt, clay, overpriced mulch). Had it been loosely coupled, removing it and then subsequently replacing it would not have required my neighbor's Dodge Ram 2500, an aircraft carrier anchor chain, and four hours of alcohol-induced colorful metaphors.

Not only did the tentacles of the hemlock escape the perimeter of the root ball, thus becoming tightly coupled to the surrounding objects, but the metal cage that encased the root ball (when the tree was originally planted) had never been removed. In the context of a planted tree, as opposed to a tree in transit, the metal cage has no purpose - a clear violation of proper cohesion.

Whomever did the landscaping for my shiny new house may have been excellent groundskeepers, but they didn't know jack about Enterprise Architecture!

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