I've known my rhododendron bushes since they were tiny babies.
When we first moved into the house, I found them scattered here and there around the property, filling in corners and providing little pops of green against the expanses of brown mulch.
Not my idea of a landscaping plan. So during the course of the first winter we lived here, I dug them all up - there were at least eight - and moved them to a border on the east side of the yard.
Since then, they have survived and thrived. And now, my little baby rhodies have grown to be giants.
Day before yesterday, these innocent-looking chairs were a red hot danger zone. Thank goodness for my trust clippers and dogged determination to create a spider-free space.
So. For the past three days, I have dedicated my life to pruning those gigantic and entirely unwieldly rhodies back.
The first day, I hacked and chopped back the leaves and smaller branches to figure out which of the larger limbs needed to go.
The second day, I, um, directed my husband's energies with the hand saw to eliminate those trouble makers and create clearance to walk through the front of the hedge.
At this point in the action, I took a celebratory amble around this part of the garden, pleased as punch with my progress. Wanna see?
^ The space under the bushes lately resembled the Amazon jungle, and I mean the non-deforested bits. It was dark and dangerous. Now, daylight and soft breezes flow free.
^ Firecracker red day lilies bloom nearby.
^ This path leads to the mailbox and represents the straight line for the garbage bins (which live on the other side of the fence) on their way to the curb. But the rhodie branches drooped so low that I had to stoop to pass through. I also had to hold my hand up in front of my face to break all the spider webs across the path. This is not right, people. Life is too short for spider webs in the face.
^ Ah, the sun beams now stream down to the ground. Heavenly.
^ Even the hydrangea bushes decided to clap their hands and shout for joy by bursting out in bloom.
I must say, if I could burst out in bloom, I would. I'm so happy with the fruits of my two-day labors.
^ This is less than half of the total pile. All told, the loosely piled branches were approximately the size of our car. Mhmm. That was some serious pruning.
And today, the third day, I dealt with the dirty work, the hangover, if you will, of any great gardening project: the giant heap of cuttings.
Feeding this pile into our weekly curb-side yard waste bin would have taken the rest of the summer so I decided to look for alternative disposal options.
I suggested only half-jokingly to my husband that after he went to bed, I'd take matters into my own hands with the can of lawn mower gasoline and a match.
Okay. One quarter-joking.
But it turns out that the local solid waste facility accepts yard waste so we spent Day Three bundling most of that God-forsaken pile into the back of our trusty CR-V.
Pick-up? Who needs a pick-up?
But never fear. This trip to what we affectionately refer to as The Dump is actually a Yard Waster Collection Site which means that all of our cast-offs will be reborn as compost, and if there's any justice in this world, will someday be tucked in loving care around some unsuspecting gardener's baby rhododendron bushes.
I hope they will grow to be giants.