9/12/2007

In which I get legit

Too legit to quit?

You can decide that for yourself after reading this post. Although you might not have enough information to reach a decision.

I began my gardening-for-food arrangement with Neighbor S today. This is S's beautiful wolfhound-shepherd mix.

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And this is her garden which has gotten away from her, as you can see.

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Gardening efforts began here in the mid-1980s. I'd say this is a 250 sq. ft. space--about half the size of my backyard.

There's a too-large pear tree, an espaliered apple tree distorted from planarity....

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Two lilacs, at least one fuchsia, three or four abutilon (one variegated), comfrey...

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Lavandula, nastirtium...

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a Brugmansia, various salvias, oxalis, Parietaria judaica, and other stuff including this fragrant, herbaceous thing--what is it?

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(And, oh look, Japanese anenonme--she loves it and wants more.)

But what dominates the garden, and dominated today's gardening efforts: wild grape (on the right) and a huuuge old Rosa 'Mermaid' (center-ish):

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The result is deep shade and extensive deadwood.

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Mermaid's trunk is a good 4-5 inches in diameter.

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I'm very excited about the sinuous old trunk of the wild grape vine.

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You can't buy that kind of established effect--I'm excited about finding a way to feature this character more effectively.

Anyhow, with trusty loppers, hand pruners, and a hand-saw S loaned me because I don't own one, I filled two big bags of dead rosewood. What I really needed for this job was safety glasses to keep all the falling plant litter out of my eyes while I pruned overhead.

S loves her roses and she has a lot of them. And those roses have a lot of crossed wood.

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I feel comfortable (i.e., competent) about pruning this kind of stuff out and getting some better structure in here. But I also know doing what has to be done will create some dramatic changes in her garden that she might find surprising. I want her to trust me, so I tell her exactly what I want to do and ask her to think about it for now.

Knowing the names of most of her plants during the walkthrough helped instill some confidence and I think demonstrating that I can distinguish living wood from dead wood did too.

I do not think this garden has strong bones. But there are some strong elements: the fruit trees, 'Mermaid', the grape, several othe roses. Also, the fence and various trellises seem to be in great shape considering.

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I think most of the other plants are subject to transplanting (or expendable). But there's still lots of pruning to be done before decisions like that get made.

S sent me home after two hours with delicious rice and chicken I should have photographed but didn't think to until it was too late. Next time.

9 comments:

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Wow, now that really is a huge rose! And that vine, when are you going to cut that back? Usually when it's dormant but when is that in your neck of the woods?

marci said...

I LOVE being turned loose on a
tangled, overgrown Eden like this.

Deeply envious, Marci

chuck b. said...

yolanda elizabet, I think the leaves will be off the grape vine by the end of November at the latest. Grapes generally ripen in October while the leaves turn red...

marci--thanks! I'm excited too.

Phillip said...

I can't wait to see what you do with this. Be careful of those thorns on Mermaid. That is a monstrous rose. I unwisely planted it on the north side of my house on a 12 ft. tall trellis and it quickly overcome it. It has vicious thorns and it never bloomed enough for me. I finally gave in and shovel pruned it.

chuck b. said...

The deadwood got stuck in my clothing quite thoroughly. Those sharp, recurved thorns will do that. As soon as I extricated it from one place, another part of the of the same piece got stuck somewhere else. And of course the thorns went right threw my gloves.

Michael said...

I'm with Marcy. It's so rewarding bringing a neglected old place back to life. And you get that explorer's high.

Layanee said...

What a great project! And, you go home with food! I think I would work for food! I am excited to anticipate the next session..and what you will go home with for dinner!

lisa said...

I'm very excited to see how this ends up!

chuck b. said...

Right THROUGH my gloves. Sheesh.

I worked on this project more today. I think we'll have 'Mermaid' under control in two more visits.