Changing Course

Well, it was a really good resolution, and I followed it for two whole days (and took over six huge nursery pots of weeds out), but then the weather turned very sunny and warm, and I got too hot to continue working in the very exposed north bed.  So, I have moved my new, disciplined routine to a shade bed, and am steadily weeding, planting, amending and mulching.  I am getting technical support from my youngest who is in charge of equipment use.  He is clearing grass and brush for me, using the string trimmer and a hand saw, and taking great (and deserved) pride in the fact that he hasn’t hurt any plant we want to keep.

This area is going to be the Hydrangea Dell mostly because it is shady and I have a whole lot of hydrangeas that need good homes.  And, of course, as soon as I started calling it the Hydrangea Dell friends started giving me even more hydrangeas.  In a few years I think it will be really magical in summer weather to go into a cool, shady part of the garden that overflows with big, gorgeous hydrangea blossoms.  The hydrangeas are getting accessorized with an assortment of other shade-lovers.  I have a lot of great Hosta I am sprinkling around, Astilbe, Heuchera,  hellebores, Japanese forest grass to line the path and numerous native blue huckleberry to provide winter structure and summer interest (and pies, eventually).  There are also small flowering trees, Styrax and dogwood to augment the canopy which is currently provided almost entirely by our native elderberry.

These elderberry trees are a bit weedy and many-trunked, but their large panicles of bloom are comprised of hundreds of creamy stars whose beauty always make me swoon in early summer.  By fall these blossoms have become clusters of richly blue berries covered in a waxy coating known as “bloom” (as you would find on a plum or blueberry).  The birds love these berries and it enlivens the garden once more as robins, jays and flickers feast and squabble over the thousands of berries on each tree.  These trees are entirely volunteer in my garden, and while they will be eventually relegated to the outer edge of the garden (they are prodigious self-sowers) I am really enjoying them front and center until the more refined Styrax and Cornus get established.  All of these flowering plants are set into a semi-circle of evergreen provided by Douglas fir and western red cedar.  I am a little worried that these will eventually get so large that they will overpower the rest of the garden.  For the present, though, they look beautiful, and if they get too big it will be so far in the future that I no longer care, or I can send my son back out with his saw and have him take care of the problem.

The upshot, though, is that working in a more focused way truly is getting more done.  That may seem like a “Well, duh!” statement, but what is surprising me is that by staying in one place I can really see results after even a fairly short work session.  That, in turn, gives me a bigger incentive to keep going in that one place until it is finished.  I still feel, very strongly, the siren call of other parts of the garden or other chores.  A bed I labored over in the late winter is looking pointless and lackluster now.  Why is everything all the same (medium) height? What was I thinking?  Was it raining so hard that I just looked down for the entire month of February and neglected to put in any taller plants?  I am desperate to change this bed, but I am going to be strong and let it wait.  For now, I am committing to the Dell.

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