The Great Garden Renovation (TGGR) Progress Report for February 2018

The Great Garden Renovation, hereinafter referred to as TGGR (pronounced “tigger”) resumed in earnest late last month as winter appeared to be slowly departing. I say “appeared” because gigantic snowflakes are falling fast and furious as I type this, with about 6″ expected. But at least there was one day in February when I could address the most immediate problems of unwanted-plant removal.

As many know, I have been whining – or whinging, for my UK readers – about the Monster Ornamental Grasses ever since moving to the Money Pit in 2014. I hacked them back multiple times each year but the darn things just kept expanding like a financially-secure dowager’s waistline. The only reason they weren’t history in 2015 was that I was planning to move and realize that some people actually like the stuff. But once I committed to remaining, the Monsters and their multiple self-seeded minions became #1 on my 2018 garden Hit List.

I found a local yard service (not my regular lawn cutter who never responded to my previous requests for an estimate) to execute my list of dig-outs and decapitations about two weeks ago during a warm spell.

This 2016 photo shows two of the Monster Trio (the third is hidden by the larger grass) plus a companion lurking in the background border.

Here’s the “after” photo. See that short post sticking up? That’s an electrical outlet that had been completely swallowed up by the Monsters! And a very welcome discovery it was, because it will allow me to use a corded leaf blower to tackle future autumn leaf loads; the only other outlet is 160 feet away on the back wall of the house!

Unfortunately I don’t have an earlier picture of the other bed which now has the small bench in it. Prior to the great rip-out, there was a Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ at the far end. That’s the good news. The bad news is that a hefty Monster Grass Minion had seeded itself smack-dab in the middle of the callicarpa, and the ensuing surgery proved fatal to the host. So the callicarpa’s former space is now occupied by a heavily-budded Camellia japonica that had to be dug out of the front walkway bed. (Don’t worry, this gets even more confusing later on.) The camellia is off center because, as per Murphy’s Law, the metal conduit containing the power cable for the newly discovered outlet-on-post is in the way. Of course.

The bench is made of two cement ‘legs’ and a very heavy granite slab set on top. The former owners set this bench next to a cute little Magnolia soulangeana sapling, probably about eight years ago. Nobody told the magnolia that it’d be rude to push someone off their seat, so the choice was to either prune the magnolia or move the bench. It’s amazing how much time it can take to properly set and level such a simple thing.

Here’s a longer view, from the patio. See that oval area of bare ground, to the left of the lefthand light post?
Remember the Tortured Conifer, from this 2015 post? Well, I finally put it out of its misery, and mine too. I disliked that plant – along with the Screwy Willow, thankfully long since gone – since day one here. Now I can have fun deciding what to replace it with. 🙂

So after all the Monstrous Minions were disposed of, and a yellow Chamaecyparis that would have caused serious issues with the house-residing job was decapitated, it was time to move the destruction toward the front.

I never took any earlier photos of this north facing wall because the small bed next to the house only had two conifers in it, flanking the air conditioning compressor and aiming to poke a hole into the overhanging soffit. Because of the siding job, and in keeping with my new philosophy of having no trees or shrubs within at least 3 feet of the house foundation, they were pulled out.

Coniferous RexHere’s a 2015 shot of the outer front-walkway bed, with Coniferus Rex in the foreground and a hedge of yellow chamaecyparis (probably C. pisifera) beyond it. Because the cesspool system (now in the backyard) needs to be replaced with a new system in the front yard (trust me: the extent of physical and financial destruction, though extensive, will be less that way) those had to go.

It’s amazing what a truck, trailer hitch, and length of heavy chain can do. Coniferus Rex seems puzzled by the outcome but at least he survived the culling. By the way, that entire section of porch (and walkway) where the lattice is, will also be gone as part of the cesspool job. So will the green prostrate junipers but the backhoe will make easy work of those when the time comes. Not sure about the leaning-umbrella-shaped weeping redbud; I give that one 50/50 odds, depending on how enthusiastic the backhoe driver is.

The funniest thing was that this small remaining part of the Killer Viburnum turned out to be the toughest thing in the entire removal project! You’d think it would just pop out of the ground, right? Wrong. It gave the truck/chain combo a run for its money AND turned out to have a root system more extensive than any of the other shrubs and trees. No wonder the thing refused to die.

After the guys left (3.5 hours later) I realized that I probably should have had them remove the yellow chamaecyparis on the other side of the porch also. Oh well.

The next TGGR job will be a massive cleanup of two years’ worth of oak leaves. I’m not foolish enough to attempt that myself. It was tentatively scheduled for this coming week.
However, judging from this photo just taken through one of my front windows…..somehow I don’t think so!

Perhaps it’s time to inject a bit of levity into the situation. Given the sound of my new TGGR acronym, it seems only logical to paraphrase A. A. Milne with this little ditty:

The wonderful thing about TGGRs
Is TGGRs are wonderful things:
You can plan them out in the Winters
And carry them out in the Springs.

They’re pricey, dicey, messy or dressy,
Involving much work and fun
But the curious thing about TGGRs is
You’re never quite sure that they’re done!

  7 comments for “The Great Garden Renovation (TGGR) Progress Report for February 2018

  1. krcc
    March 7, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    I thought that Screwy Willow looked so cool. Wish trees like those grew ’round here. Lovely garden you have.

    • March 7, 2018 at 6:17 pm

      I have a feeling the Screwy Willow would have been more attractive if it had managed to keep its foliage for more than a few weeks a year. The former owners irrigated the heck out of the property with an inground sprinkler system, but I have a very Darwinian approach to watering and had no inclination to become a slave to a tree that obviously had a drinking problem, lol. 🙂

  2. March 8, 2018 at 2:51 am

    Ha! ‘Screwy willow’! That is about how I feel about it. I know it is popular, but I do not like it.

  3. March 18, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Brilliant, you seem really up for TGGR and I love your adaption of Tigger’s song. Made me smile. 🙂

  4. March 31, 2018 at 10:16 am

    You are on the road to recovery! Get rid of the visual eye stabs and you will see the light! lol

  5. Tia
    February 17, 2019 at 10:34 am

    I love Tigger and I loved your poem, they both make me smile. Your article was grand, I was nodding my head through the whole read. I shared your article with my husband, who wanted to know if the bush I had just moved in the Fall was going on another trip!

    • February 17, 2019 at 10:44 am

      Sometimes I do wonder if there is a horticultural equivalent of “frequent flyer miles.” 🙂 When I think of all the peripatetic perennials, shifting shrubs and even the occasional traveling tree in my gardens over the decades, it’s a wonder my lower back remained intact as long as it did!

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