Monday, April 28, 2008


I hate to start with death and destruction, but I guess that's what I'm going to do. You know how, when you buy a house, there's so much to do that some things just don't register? Until all of a sudden they do? It was kind of like that with the shrubs.

I have flower beds all around my house, and clearly, the previous owners took care with some of these beds. There are daffodils and tulips, columbine and black-eyed Susans, a gorgeous flirty pink peony, three hydrangea bushes in the back. I don't love everything, but there are flowers, and it's pretty, and mostly, that's been enough. But not all of the beds got the same attention, and the one that had been seemingly ignored for years and years, surely through multiple owners of the house, is the one you see first when you go up the driveway. There were 3 sickly fir-type trees, two taller and spindly and one low and spreading. It's not like they really looked like they were enjoying themselves there.

For the first few years, it was like I didn't see them at all, even though I drove up and down my driveway multiple times a day. They just didn't register. Until last year, suddenly, I saw them. And immediately wanted them gone. I started looking up shrubs in my garden bible (Barbara Damrosch's The Garden Primer), and I went and looked at various flowering plants and shrubs at the garden center, but that's as far as it got. Spring moved on, more plants came up, stuff happened, and I got distracted.

But yesterday, a cool spring Sunday afternoon, without even really planning to (I'd been planning to go over to the community garden and visit my newly planted peas), I found myself hacking branches off the low spreading shrub so that I could get to the center, so I could dig it up. And then, once that was gone, there seemed to be no choice but to get rid of the others as well. (I forgot to take a picture before I started digging the first one up, so this is an early-in-the-process shot.)

It's not entirely a clean slate--there was one little non-fir type shrub I wasn't ready to yank out. But at least now I have something to work with. And when I go to the garden center next time, maybe I'll manage stay undistracted long enough to buy something. It's not like my various electric and phone meters are so attractive to look at.

As I was digging the sad fir trees out, I remembered something a friend had said when I moved in (a well-meaning, but often blunt friend). She'd said, "You know, in five years, this place will look really great." At the time, I'd thought, almost simultaneously--"I don't want to wait five years" and, "Well, at least there won't be any rush to do everything at once." (And also, "It's not that bad, is it?") But now, 3 1/2 years in, I know exactly what she means. It took me 2 1/2 years to notice the sad fir trees. And I have no doubt that, next year, I'll notice something else, something that hasn't bothered me at all up til now. Selective blindness. Or maybe some kind of blessing--since there's no way to do everything at once, your mind only lets you see as much as you're ready for. Or something.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I think when it comes to larger-scale gardening, selective blindness can be a blessing. Otherwise you'd (well, OK, I'd run screaming from the yard and stay inside all spring. Sometimes it's good to encompass only what you can deal with at any given moment...