My garden, like myself, is no longer young and freshly planted. We have been here awhile, and the signs of maturity are equal parts dignified and disconcerting. Once this property was almost a blank space with few trees and mown grass, now it holds almost thirty years worth of plantings, some grown quite large. Large enough that it is time to consider whether to keep some of the less stellar choices I have made.
This year had seen the apex of neglected gardens and the aftermath of some of Nature’s affronts. January’s ice storm had drawn down the branches of the trees with a merciless hand, showering the house with crashes and clatterings of broken branches throughout a night of fierce-some pruning. The spring and summer were times to reshape the willow, and pull out the broken off branches of the large Arborvitae, tasks only finished this past week.
The willow may actually be the better for its massive pruning. But the Arborvitae, a tree of some age, is looking like a balding and scruffy personage after huge branches broke under the heavy weight of the Northwesterly ice which had coated large arms of its stature with a burden that it could not withstand. Although many other trees had lost a good deal, like the pines especially, nothing took the brunt so greatly as did this particular Arborvitae.
Past experience with these plants is that they come back well after such mishandling by either nature or the gardener’s hand. Some globe Arborvitae (much younger in age, but all the more roughly broken) had suffered from snow weighting their branches to the breaking point and were severely misshapen. The globes looked split down the center; surprisingly, they recovered within a year. I thought I would have to remove them, but procrastination on my part worked in their favor, for once. I now expect the regrowth to fill in the tree in a few years.
The other age related wrinkles in my garden are not so optimistically regarded.
This past week, as I mentioned, I have trimmed and pruned many shrubs and trees, and while there is still much to do, the garden is shaping up… but the mistakes of the past years are all the more exposed. I really have to remove some fringe trees which have not thrived in the too dry conditions of the driveway, and the Doublefile viburnums are trimmed within an inch of their life, but still do not fit within that same area. It was a grand mistake I made that I hoped could have been mollified with efforts on my part. It is obvious that I need to remove them…. I just hate to do it, because I doubt if I can save them once they are pulled out. That area has been a challenge for me in more than one way. It remains to be seen if I learn to understand what answer it requires.
An old garden will tell you what doesn’t work for it, but will still make you dig for answers on what does.
There are other parts of the garden that are not aging as well as I had hoped. The Lavender walk is suffering from the enthusiastic growth of the rue, the encroaching grass, and the awkwardness of the surviving lavenders. I’ve debated taking it out, although perhaps removal of some of the rue and replanting with new lavenders might be all that is needed.
The worst part of an old garden is the way weeds come to make themselves at home within the older plantings. A newly planted space has none of that.
The longer I live and the longer I garden, the more I find one tip that works for many a problem. That is the power of a consistent attention to what is needed. If every day I work for a few hours or even a few minutes, if I bend down and pull some weeds here or there as I pass…. and not leave the garden neglected until there is a marathon amount of work to accomplish…. I sustain some form of victory. A garden is made of little attentions given often…. much like every other relationship we may desire to cultivate.
And with that nugget of wisdom I leave for another time, my friends.
|Arborvitae trees and Willow in better days|
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© 2011 written for Ilona’s Garden Journal. An excellent blog.