Monday Opinion: The Dreaded Gaposis

Gaposis?  Though it isn’t a real word, it describes a spot I’ve been in all too many times.  It  is not too tough to figure out what it means.  A gap is an opening, or space.  Does not everyone remember that look, having lost a front baby tooth?  So embarrasing, that gap.  The Cumberland Gap is a naturally existing  passage way through the Cumberland mountains.  This deep sloping ravine, improved upon by pioneering Americans,  was the opening in the southern Appalachian mountains that permitted travel.  A gap can also refer to an interruption in a thought or design, a breach in a wall, a missing verb, or a miscalculation.  A gap is an obvious and conspicuous imbalance.  All this-from an online dictionary. The suffix -osis is usually found at the end of a noun.  Osis refers to a process, or state.  Metamorphosis-the process of changing from one form to another.

My imaginary word gaposis refers to a missing piece, a lack of continuity that results in empty, inexplicable,  unproductive, or unbalanced exchange.  or space.    A gaposis in one’s chain of thought means that a thought not clearly expressed might not be understood.  A gaposis in a design interrupts the intended rhythm.  A dead lavender in a lavender hedge is a gaposis.  It is a clear sign that something is missing.  That gap subtracts from the beauty of the remaining plants. Continuity which is abruptly breached by some unforeseen gap detracts from the overall fluidity effectiveness of an argument, an essay, a landscape plan, a sea wall, an idea;  blips-have you not had them? 

Routinely I have clients ask me questions I cannot answer.  I admit the gaposis in my knowledge, but assure them I will try to find the answer.  Some questions have no answer.  If a client wants me to promise that the Maureen tulips will be in full bloom the day her daughter gets married, I won’t.  But I will tell her I won’t let her go over the cliff and into the gap alone.  There needs to be a plan B in place.  There are gaps in my knowledge of the history of landscape design.  There are gaps in my knowledge of horticulture.  There are gaps all over my landscape.    

It is reasonable for my clients to assume I am educated in regards to good planting practices, horticulture, and design.  Anything and everything I learn about the history of landscape and garden design, the identity and cultivation of plants makes me a better designer.  I buy books, and read them.  I hope everything that I read, and my experience makes for as gaposis free as possible client experience.  Any bill that goes out from my office details the work – start to finish.  The genus and species of every plant we plant-detailed, and spelled right.  No gaps.

In my opinion, the word and the meaning of gaposis needs to be introduced to the popular landscape design vernacular.  Unattended gaps should worry any design professional.  It is as important to see what is missing as it is to edit.  For those of you gardeners who garden on your own, make sure your design has purpose, and logic.  A landscape space that flows is gap free.      

Every gap can be filled with knowledge and experience.  Until the next new gap comes along, that is.     



  1. Or, as the lady on the recorded warning in all the London tube train cars says as you disembark: “mind the gap.”

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