Salvaging a 20 year old garden

Some gardens, like some people, age gracefully, others don’t.  We inherited a yard planted too tightly for the size of the mature shrubs.  To complicate the situation further, the majority of these shrubs were trimmed (probably twice a year) with no regard for the needs of the plant.

Suckering is prolific after such hard shearing throughout the years.
Suckering is prolific after such hard shearing throughout the years.
More dead than alive, it was fairly easy to remove so my rosemary plant can move into that spot.
More dead than alive, it was fairly easy to remove so my rosemary plant can move into that spot.

In the spring I began hacking away at the lowest branches of the foundation plants to ensure the grass could be mowed; keeping up with the suckers is a biweekly job.  Now that we are more situated I have been reviewing the situation; there is more dead wood inside those poor shrubs than there is living, healthy wood.  No wonder the spiraea are already flowered out and the shoots of all of the bushes are long and gangly.

If you really feel compelled to shape and trim your hedges or shrubs, get to know them and work with their flowering cycles and on occasion prune deeper inside to remove the old, truncated wood that is rotting in place and preventing good air circulation within.  Nature is beautiful and quite versatile, think about finding a plant the grows the way you would like the space to be filled.  Less work for you and better health for the plant can’t be bad.

IMG_0868Ok, you know I am not a proponent of trimming by now, so I will move on.  There is a lovely white hydrangea by the front entry, but a butterfly bush is planted so close to it that you have to know to look for it to see it at all.  There are a few

Can you find the fern, isn't looking too good, is it?
Can you find the fern, isn’t looking too good, is it?

ferns that were very visible in the early spring, but they are all but completely covered in other vegetation now.  Spiraea, probably in self-defense of the trimming that was

This spirea volunteered.
This spiraea volunteered.

slowly killing them, have reseeded in many places throughout the yard; some are not very good places to have such a shrub.  My goal is to remove the least healthy plants from the most congested areas and give the remaining ones a chance to fill in.  Today’s efforts resulted in half a pick-up load of vegetation piled to one side of the drive way.  There is a lot more to do, but it is 97 out there and I just couldn’t bring myself to continue without some shade.

This is going to take a lot out of me - but it will make for a healthier garden over all.
This is going to take a lot out of me – but it will make for a healthier garden over all.

There are good bones here, attributes worth saving, but they need a bit of TLC, so a face lift, liposuction, tummy tuck, etc. – this garden is going to get it all!  Pacing myself, arnica and icy-hot rubs with aspirin will help me make it through the tough physical stuff.  Since my herb garden transplanted so well this spring (at the expense of five rose bushes), I am hoping that the rest of the yard will come out as nicely with all of the attention it is going to get.

IMG_0880Oh, and when you inadvertently break a flower from its plant, make the best of it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s