Interesting Times

Interesting Times

May you live in interesting times seems to stick in what remains of my mind. I had understood it to be an ancient Chinese curse, but recently read it was neither Chinese nor ancient, but Western in origin. Where ever it originated, it sure seems to describe the last couple of years in my gardens.

A mature red elm located in the lower center of my hillside garden leafed out in spring as usual and then died. This important tree provided shade for a large portion of my garden. By late summer of the first year many of the existing shrubs and perennials were under stress due to the sudden shift from shade to sun. I made the decision to leave the dead tree as a woodpeckers breakfast nook, using climbing hydrangea as a decoration. By the end of the first year major limbs were ripped out by winds to fall upon my plants and break sections out of a smaller tree nearby.  This major limb removal hit twice and then the tree itself fell from root wad. I considered myself lucky for the tree fell upon a path and not upon the garden.

The upper level of my garden had, (notice the past tense) a tall hedge of trees and shrubs reached up into the power lines providing heavy shade for over 150 feet of my garden. Last fall every tree and shrub was removed to the soil line. In early spring I scrambled to erect a board fence and began transplanting trees and shrubs, but one cannot transplant instant maturity into a garden. It will be many years before shade returns to that section of my gardens. Adding insult to injury our record heat and drought almost instantly turned my perennials into crispy dormant/dead.

In the very center, the heart, of my garden stand 3 mature trees. An ancient eastern cedar, a wild cherry and mature walnut. One third of the cedar was sliced by lightening and now lays across the upper level of my garden. As the cedar was damaged a major section took a large limb of the  walnut. Wind drove limbs from the cherry tree, along with another large limb from the walnut into a conifer at the bottom front of my garden. That mess has not been cleaned up and notes are being made salvaging the situation.

On the western side of my garden a mature hybrid horse chestnut I transplanted when I first began gardening gave up the ghost and no longer provides shade from afternoon sun. Among the first conifers I transplanted a mature blue Alberta spruce looks like last years Christmas tree.

It would seem I stand in the midst of another old proverb. Now that I  have arrived in interesting times, I must remember it is the willow that bends with the winds and does not break.