Monday, May 13, 2013

The Japanese Maple Project

As a fearless optimist, I frequently have seemingly-simple ideas that somehow morph into a "project."

This year's idea/project?  A Japanese maple that's been growing in the narrow strip between our entry walk and our garage wall for more than a few years.
 
I've been hoping to get the go-ahead to cut it down from my sweetie for the past few springs. I'd drop casual comments like "Gee, the branches are starting to grow under the roof tiles" or "Wow, I pruned it and now it looks like something from a Dr. Seuss book" and hope that he'd suggest removing it.
 
This year I came right out and asked him if he cared whether I cut it down.  In retrospect, he probably knew that removing it involved more than a simple cut with the bow saw and was hoping to save himself some trouble.  Smart boy.

Of course, I'm an impulsive optimist and I was determined to reclaim some sunlight and plant a lilac--or a peony or an English rose, I haven't decided which--and since he didn't actually object...

It didn't take long to hack off the remaining branches and cut through the trunk. I left a tall stump which I knew would provide some leverage when it came time to remove the roots. I just forgot how long it can take to expose the roots!  So my current project is to dig around the roots with my favorite trusty root-grubbing tool--a big old screwdriver--in any and all spare moments of daylight.
 

It's a mindless job that allows me to dig along the big roots, clip the small roots, remove the soil, dig, clip, remove, dig, clip, remove, dig, clip, remove--while listening to the flirtatious chirps taking place behind my back as the linnets undertake family life in their newly-woven nest hidden in our Nelly Moser clematis. I suspect that I'm going to become such a fixture as I dig that they'll eventually accept me as part of the landscape instead of viewing me as a threat.

It's not a major project that will take weeks of hard work. It's more of a project that should be finished after a few days of exposing roots.  (Ha! I've since found that, while there's no taproot, some of the roots decided to visit China.  I might have to retract that remark about not taking weeks of hard work.)  I want to do a good job so I can provide the new plant tenant a lovely, deep, root-free hole to flourish in.  Fortunately the western roots are covered by easily-transplanted candytuft and mums so I've been working diligently and hope to have half the roots cut soon.  The moondust (as we dubbed our soil long ago) is moist and easy to dislodge and remove. But it's going to require patience to finish because I don't want to dig up the eastern roots until the bluebells finish blooming and can be lifted to a safe haven.  I like them too much to rush them along.

Meanwhile I'm perusing lilac varieties although I know the space is too narrow for a lilac as it was for the maple.  I do just happen to have a bareroot peony growing happily in the shade of the cherry tree. 
 
Bowl of Beauty currently resides in a nursery pot and needs time to develop a bit more before I'll need to plant it in a permanent location but it might look like this in that sunny area with luck and a few years.

And my brain is repeating "Brother Cadfael, Brother Cadfael" like a mantra,
 

even though the chance of finding that particular pink English rose in our local nurseries is nihil.

Depending on the root system, which doesn't seem to be extensive, I might have room for both a peony and a new rose! If I'm lucky I might be finished by the time I finally decide what to plant there.  Meanwhile I (and my plants) are enjoying an area without heavy shade.  I know it'll all be worth it in the end.

Bring joy,
 

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