Nature in the form of our garden is having a purge. First, a huge branch of a decades-old willow tree dropped, narrowly missing our most productive mulberry and blueberry patch. Next, a sizeable limb of an old red maple fell. And then one evening while knitting, I heard a splitting crack and felt the house shutter. Was it an earthquake? No, it was a pine tree up on the hill splitting at the base and hitting the ground with force.
Time to Marie Kondo the Garden!
The whole garden is in the mood for a thorough spring cleaning and has inspired us with silent whispers to help it along. It reminds me of when we Marie Kondo’d (that’s a verb now right?) our indoor spaces five years ago–piles of stuff to go through and see what still sparked joy.
Perhaps it was the extreme drought last year that weakened the trees? In any case, it does seem like a good time for a clearing out. It’s been 20 years since we first moved here, and there are so many elements of the garden that are leftovers of projects or plantings that didn’t work out or have completed their purpose. They weren’t “sparking joy” anymore– just remnants of an earlier time.
A Garden Purge To-Do List
So we’re clearing out things like:
- Broken pottery that resisted repair
- Plants that never thrived
- Dead plant material from the drought
- Rotting structures
- For us this involved demolishing a rotting deck and a charming but termite-infested old doghouse from the preview owners. (We had named it “The Bumtrinket,” a name borrowed from a boat in “My Family and Other Animals.” That’s a family-friendly comedy by Gerald Durrell in book or dvd, if you haven’t seen it/read it. 🙂 )
- Garden tools and supplies we tried in the early days but didn’t work for us or we no longer need and which are collecting dust in the shed
- Actually, the whole shed needs a clean-out!
- Garden designs that are overdue for updating
- For example: in the early days, there was no privacy at all, just bare land, so our first goal was to create a thickly planted privacy garden around the house. Nowadays, areas have matured beyond the immediate house zone and there are pockets of privacy, so this earliest section is now getting thinned out.
- Also, I now have different physical abilities than I did up to this point, and so making space close to the house for an outdoor table to sit at, and a safer space to sit around the koi pond are becoming priorities.
Just as regular deliveries to the thrift store were common during our indoor Marie Kondo-ing purge, the outdoor purge has involved lots of visits by arborists. In fact, I’ve seen more arborists lately than I have friends and family!
The skills of arborists amaze me. There was a professional arborist crew working for weeks in the neighborhood, taking down the enormous eucalyptus trees that used to line our street. (Yay! That’s a big fire danger removed. They are not native trees here, and yet they naturalize readily. They are very flammable, and drop masses of flammable debris. They are also allelopathic, meaning they inhibit growth of many other plants near them.)
It was amazing to watch the arborists work, being hoisted up by a crane the size of which is usually seen at work in cities… up, up, up… perilously high into the tops of eucalyptus trees, with chainsaws hanging from their belts. It’s like watching Olympic athletes.
A professional landscaper is coming next week to install decomposed granite paths in the rest of the vegetable garden, so I can get around easier with my dodgy knees. Hooray!
Making Space for Renewal
A good purge feels like it makes space for renewal, doesn’t it? I don’t have plans for all the spaces we are clearing. I think it might be fun to let any given space inspire me with what it wants to be. It reminds me of meditating, when the clutter of thoughts, identities, and all the jumble is allowed to just soften and fade a bit, and I stop trying to fill the void (well, for a moment or two anyway). Sometimes amazing inspiration seems to come from that open receptiveness. I remember sitting up on the bench on the hill one day–just hanging out quietly. And as I was looking out over a patch of bare field, it occurred to me to transplant the struggling citrus up there. Seemed like a crazy idea. But so far, they are doing much better there than anywhere else we had tried. So I’m looking forward to what inspiration may blossom from the potent emptiness–if you will.
Hope your garden is filling you with inspiration! Ours has just started to burst into early spring blossoms.
I hope your garden or nature spot (or houseplant haven) is a great comfort to you!
Oh! I almost forgot. This weekend is a good time to start bird-watching! You can contribute to The Great Backyard Bird Count. Go to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for info. I like using the app Merlin for photo or sound ID.