Now one might ask me, how did this part of your garden get so...so out of control? All I have is excuses. Things grow incredibly fast in my garden (it's true). I knew that all of this needed to come down soon, so I don't think I've pruned any of it for months (and it grows several feet a month - or more). I've been pre-occupied (undeniable).
So today was the day I decided to at least begin to tackle the tangle of vines and thorns and branches (if you look closely, you'll see canes of Climbing Cecile Brunner and Silver Moon, vines of wisteria and wild grape, as well as a branch or two from the chaste tree) that have merged into one large mass in the front of my current home. (And this mass existed just over 12' off the ground - up on my deck - which means this stuff continues all of the way down to the ground).
The lab's postdoc - who we've discovered over the past eight months or so makes homemade chocolate eclairs and glazed doughnuts (and I swear I did not ask him if he baked during his interview) - also seems to feel compelled to lecture me about the care of my felcos and other tools, and agreed, no - volunteered - to refurbish my pruning tools while I was in Virginia last weekend.
Wow. What a differences a little sharpening makes...and cleaning and oiling and heating up the blade prior to sharpening. And, to be honest, I don't think I could have handled much of this without these tools being in damned good shape because this was pretty terrible. Did I say how grateful I was for leather gloves? I'm still not done, not even close, and I'm just taking a break indoors for a bit -- but I do feel like progress has been made.
The butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii 'Nanho Blue') is no more. It was in really bad shape, having been damaged during Hurricane Gaston a few years ago, and the trunk was gnarled and much of it had dry rotted in place. I did take several cuttings from this plant late in the summer, and all have rooted - so it will be, once again, in the garden. Removing this butterfly bush frees up the crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica 'Queen's Lace') that I plan to transplant elsewhere - the southern exposure of my new home will extend further out, hence the need to remove (or move) some of the existing plants.
The Silver Moon is more of a challenge though. I thought today that I might transplant one of the suckers outside of my front gate, on the far right - and let it just be. This is a rose for someone who is a far more aggressive pruner than I am - although I love it when it is covered in blooms each spring. On the ground now, it exists as a mass of thorny canes that the birds just love - and each year a new nest is built inside of the mass somewhere - this one was quite large and I might try and move it (I've had success with that in the past). If I can get to a sucker without threatening my life, I'll get one - and then perhaps prune the rose back just enough to safely get to the crepe myrtle - and I'll leave the rest for the demolition team. I figure, if they are demolishing an entire house, adding in a 'little' rose shouldn't be a problem, right?
So not to endorse a product, but...oh, is this Black and Decker cordless chainsaw amazing! Now, a few friends are worried that they'll be meeting me at the emergency room, but honestly, this thing is lightweight and a breeze to use. It has an 18-volt rechargeable battery (that is charging as I type this) and I recommend it to anyone who is a bit afraid of larger chainsaws (e.g., me) yet has some pruning to do that is above and beyond the long handled pruners. It's liberated me. Honestly. I've been able to get down the lower (and dead) branches from my bald cypresses and the large Savannah Holly - and I'll need it to cut the confederate jasmine vine that is covering the front staircase rail and deck rail (I'm planning on cutting the vine down to a few feet and transplanting it elsewhere).
So, the garden is a mess - there are piles of branches everywhere. I'm a mess - and have a few scratches (more than a few) as evidence of a good days work (with more hours of daylight yet to go). But I can happily say that progress has been made - and that I'm a bit closer to imagining the new house and where it will go. Plus, just imagine, with the new house there will be the need to plant new gardens - new trees and vines that will reach up to the deck and ramble along the rails of the front porches - perhaps it will even be time for that palm tree I've admired. For this year, however, I will have to accept that the birds will be angry with me and that planting plans will need to be put on hold.