Sunday, May 3, 2009

Where the Tree Used to Be

When I moved here in late 2004, there was a dying birch tree in the garden. I'm not sure if it was planted in the garden on purpose or if the garden had grown around it, but there it was, not exactly smack in the middle, but a definite presence. In the winter, the branches froze and fell off, and by the next summer, it was a spindly and wobbly and quite clearly dead.

Last year (or maybe the year before), Alex had had enough of the spindly dead birch tree, and one day, he cut it down. This did not take a huge amount of effort--he tied some thin rope around it to guide it as it fell, and he used a small hand saw to cut it. The whole thing took maybe 15 minutes. What was left was a tall spindly stump:

I planted the false indigo in front of the stump, and I pulled out the blackberry brambles from around the stump. I used the stump as a reference point, and it gave some focus to that section of the garden. Okay, maybe not the most attractive focus, but focus nonetheless.

And then yesterday, I was digging around in that section of the garden. There's some Greek oregano that's grown a bit too enthusiastically for my taste (given that I've never used it for anything), and I was digging some of that up, along with the lemon balm that likes to spread. (I like lemon balm for the scent but, again, I've never used it for anything, so I don't mind losing some of it.) I kept digging up chunks of rotting wood, and then I pressed on the stump, and it moved. Like a loose tooth, it wiggled rather ominously and did not feel entirely moored to its base. I couldn't really think of any reason that the tree really needed to be where it was. So with a bit more wiggling and a yank, it was out.

Now, I have to admit, I'm slightly flummoxed. On the one hand, I have what amounts to an unexpected space for a small perennial bed (especially if I'm vigilant with the oregano). On the other, the bed looks strange with no stump in it. The garden looks strange without the stump. I look out and think I can see it, as if it's my vestigial dead birch tree.

The space doesn't look that big above, but I realized that if I take out or move the lemon balm and the other misc. plants in the immediate vicinity like the ferns and the little violas, and if I cut back more on the Greek oregano, I'll actually have a decent sized bed to work with:

I have to admit that, in general, I'm a pretty haphazard gardener. I don't usually plan things out ahead of time--I see plants I think I'll like and buy them (or accept them from friends) and come home and find a space for them. If they're in a place that's really not working, I'll move them. And because I moved to a house that had an established garden already, I'm also working around what was already here, the good choices--most of the bulbs, the hydrangeas, the gorgeous peony--and the less good ones--the yellow irises by the back door, the motley front beds I never get around to trying to fix. This bed, once it becomes a bed, will be my first real opportunity to plan a perennial bed, even a small one. It's an intriguing prospect, a challenge. The first task is to move what's there and doctor the soil some. After that, who knows what I'll come up with. I'm excited to figure it out.

1 comment:

MarthaandMe said...

I'm working on some gardening too and it's all new to me. I'm not the best gardener and we're going to be starting over with one garden that is a total disaster.

I'm part of the May Blogathon and wanted to say hi!