Its that time of year when many of us plan our gardens, leaf thru seed catalogs, plan new flower beds, wonder if the old mower will make it thru another season… some of us wonder if we will make it thru another season.
For a long, long time I have wanted to clear out the thicket on the acre east of the house. It has been a slow job, doing almost microscopic sections at a time, then watching the jungle grow back when I would have a summer with too much pain to do any work out there. Though actually, summer is probably not the right word – most of the work outside gets done in the spring or autumn, sometimes in the winter if it is a mild one, but summer is usually too beastly hot to get much more done than keep things watered and the basic grass cutting. Tree cutting is best done in the winter when the sap is not running. That is also a good time to not get into poison ivy as it is dormant unless you decide to pull its roots. Late fall, winter, and early spring are also the best times to work outside because there are no mosquitoes and ticks are fewer except on those really warm days when they wake up and decide they are hungry and you are delicious. Last year, a friend bought an old house to fix up. I gave him a load of camellias and another friend, an azalea grower, sold me a bunch of azaleas, at wholesale, for him. The only catch was, John had to dig the camellias up. So, while he was digging, he dug up more than he could use and we planted them out on the edge of my “thicket” and another friend put a park bench together for me in the middle of it all. Preston brought me a big piece of slate for under the bench, and things started to look good. I didn’t even mind the other half acre of junk trees and bramble that much. The middle was cleaned and slowly getting planted in baby camellias.
A couple months ago I posted a couple pictures from the bench toward the thicket. The cedar tree and the trees with yellow leaves are still there, but the jungle behind them is now gone.
Then I asked Charlie to cut down a 20 foot camellia for me next to the house as it was where the generator is going to go. It broke my heart to have it cut down, but, it had to go. I remembered it wasn’t much more than a twig when I planted it. But Charlie, chain saw in hand, decided to keep cutting. He headed out to the thicket and kept going. I never knew when he would be out there, or how much he was going to cut, but in a couple weeks, the jungle was cleared, his bush-hog chopped down the miles of vines and bramble and I could walk across that acre for the first time since I moved here. I could always see a beautiful old tree in the far end, but could never get even close enough to it to touch it. Now Charlie has even driven my truck around it! I lost count of the truck loads of wood he took out of there, much of it locust and cherry.
In the middle of this jungle, there is a tree that fell, rooted and kept growing, looking like the Loch Ness monster coming out of the earth. Charlie saved that, too, tho he cut the sucker branches off. It is sort of a built in bench out there. Used to ne that Punkin would follow me everywhere I went, but, he is gone. Imagine my surprise to see Spook, my scaredy cat keeping his distance, but exploring the “new” territory with me.
We kept a bit of jungle around the edges until I get Preston or someone to plant some evergreens as a wind break on that corner and slowly fill the lot with azaleas and camellias. My goal is to create a meditation garden, a place of Peace, perhaps prayer, contemplation… perhaps a couple redbud trees, a dogwood or two, maybe another fringe tree if I can find one… a beautyberry bush or so to round things out. I think I will sprinkle some digitalis seed here and there, see what grows. Maybe I will put in some daffodils next fall when I have a better sense of the form it will take. Of course, the big challenge will be keeping it clear as the jungle will try to reassert itself come spring.
If you are ever in the area and want to wander by, come on it, sit a spell and be refreshed. Or grab a shovel and plant a camellia!