Strolling the garden with my wife


Yesterday, I accompanied my wife as she strolled through the garden, pruners in hand. Anyone who has followed these pages will be aware of her destructive tendencies, and thus I walked along to distract her and possibly to limit the damage. Along the stone paths, no branch or stray leaf is safe, and she takes particular pride in scalping trailing stems that creep an inch onto the stones. This is not my style of gardening, though admittedly, if she didn’t do the pruning some paths might have disappeared long ago.

Trees and shrubs that overhang the driveway have become a particular annoyance to her, and scars from her pruning are evident along this small section of the garden. I, on the other hand, am quite pleased that arching branches of a ‘Jane’ magnolia and ‘Seriyu’ Japanese maple will finally touch after spring growth across the widest part of the driveway. I am not bothered that local delivery trucks no longer venture down the drive, or that visitors must often make multiple tries to keep a perfectly straight line backing out to avoid a wide spreading, weeping Japanese maple that strays several feet over the asphalt.

My wife does her best (and most destructive) work when I’m not watching, so instead of pruning while on our little stroll, I was fortunate to hear her commentary about every little thing that concerns her about the garden. This is too tall, too wide, I can’t see the sky. Good sport and supportive spouse that I am, I was sympathetic to her suggestions, nodding in agreement (though often with crossed fingers) until we reached the driveway, when she pointed out the butchered growth of a Fernspray cypress and suggested that I remove it to clear a bit of the edge of the driveway, and if not, she’d find someone who would.

The cypress is butchered, of course, because of her attempts to keep the driveway more open, and with the Japanese maple directly across, she figured it safest to chop the heck out of the cypress rather than one of my treasured maples. Happily, my displeasure still counts for something, but of course, I told her there was no way I was doing anything with the cypress. And, with this final suggestion, she went back inside.

Now, let no one say that I don’t pay proper attention while my wife is speaking, or that I don’t consider her suggestions, no matter how impractical or wrongheaded I might tell her they are. Truth is, the misshapen cypress had been nagging at me for a while, and suddenly removing it seemed reasonable. Imagine her surprise when she came back out a few minutes later to see what all the ruckus was about. She caught me in mid cut with the chainsaw, with one of three trunks of the cypress tumbling onto the driveway. To her credit, my wife’s first concern was for my safety as I dodged large falling limbs. The last tree I removed left a large gash in my forehead, which dripped all over the kitchen floor, so I’m uncertain if she was concerned for my well being or her floor. There was, in fact, no danger, and in a short while the cypress was gone, with branches cut up and dragged off the driveway to be hauled off another day.

So, the cypress is gone, along with a dwarf fruiting peach just behind it that once was prized for its garish pink blooms (above), but for too long has been shaded by taller growing trees that surround it, until it finally faded. With the cypress and peach gone, I discovered a tall camellia in full flower that I had completely forgotten about, and the idea began to form on what to do with this new open space. My wife, who didn’t expect that the cypress would ever be removed, had not considered that something else would be planted, but it didn’t take long for her to get the idea. Already, she’s warning me not to plant anything that will touch the driveway. Like I’d ever do such a thing.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Lauren says:

    That was adorable.

    Oh may I get to a garden where a full grown camellia could hide! We moved into an old house with NOTHING in the back yard a year ago… everything will be 3′ tall for a while yet down here… grow, plants, grow!

    1. Dave says:

      No one has ever called me, or said anything I’ve done is adorable. I’m not. It seems hard to believe that an 8 foot camellia could escape my notice, but it’s a jungle. Some parts of the garden cannot be accessed without a machette.

  2. Anne says:

    You had me at “my wife”! Wonderful!

  3. Ruth says:

    Haha! I loved the post today Dave! Well written and fun to read! 😀

  4. Liz Manugian says:

    Gardeners everywhere will be able to relate, and are probably chuckling across the entire country. Thank you so much, Dave! Whether it is ‘the wife’ or the ‘the husband’, the behavior is always the same; and in our case of 40 years of togetherness as gardener (me) and chief supervisor (my husband), it is so totally predictable. Just loved the entire observation.

  5. lucindalines says:

    Funny! I bought the chainsaw and held it hostage for a year before I finally consented to remove a completely dead Russian, but insisted we save the stump in the ground for me to build a fairy garden around it. The things we do in a garden.

  6. Ruth says:

    Just read this Dave…it’s hysterical! Well written and a lot of fun! I could just see you and your wife on the stroll though the garden! Thanks to both of you! 💞

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