My garden has seemed a bit too big for a while now. Things that were initially mere blips on the garden radar have lately felt overwhelming and insurmountable. A very hot summer kept me inside a lot, and weeds have taken over. My tomatoes were a big bust this year due to marauding raccoons and suboptimal sunlight. There's so much to plant and transplant yet this fall, which I normally look forward to but which this year feels defeating.
Today I planned to dig out seven overgrown junipers that need to go to make room for other things I like more, which have been waiting to get in the ground since June. Five of the junipers are 4' tall x 6' wide, the other two are 5' x 8' feet, though I'd trimmed those back considerably already.
I normally like digging out shrubs--it's hard work but it's gratifying when it's done and it's a good way to get out aggression! First I cut off the branches of the first shrub, which filled two yard waste bags, so I could see where I was digging. Then I dug. This was extremely arduous because the soil is so dry and the roots are far down. I barely reached them at all. I get rashes if I touch certain evergreens and even though I was wearing long sleeves, long pants, socks and closed shoes, I could feel my neck and the back of my legs start to itch. The underside of my foot where you push on the shovel was a little sore. An hour and a lot of digging passed, but still no progress even finding the roots, and the base trunks were not loosening even an eeny beeny tiny bit!
To say I was getting frustrated would be inaccurate. I was swearing at random things (yes out loud), and even called a squirrel (my favorite wildlife friend!) an expression favored by residents of Deadwood. In a fit of fury I jumped down on the spade too hard, onto soil that was too hard, lost my balance, and toppled onto the adjacent juniper in a big flailing heap.
Before I mention what happened next I have to tell you that gardening has been my passion for many years and I have gardened in many different settings. I'm very much a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-stuck-in kind of person, a modern-day Rosie the Riveter. My arms, my energy, my determination, and my will are strong. I'm not afraid of hard work and I've always done my own heavy lifting. And, let's face it, I'm so goddamn stubborn that a whole army of buckthorn is no real match.
That being said, we return to me face down in a juniper (which would have been pretty funny if I hadn't been in a mood). I wasn't hurt, but I found myself balled up in a fetal position crying like a baby kitten who can't find its mama. Well, OK, not really crying because I think the sweating dehydrated my ability to produce tears, but that's not the point.
The point is, I cursed my garden, listing all its failings and all its demands, and everything I had ever done for it, and for what? What had it done for me? Huh?! I used a lot of sentences involving "you always" and "you never" and finally told it to get the hell out of my life, only in much more colorful language.
I squeezed my eyes shut, crossed my arms, and pouted, waiting for it to beat a hasty retreat or at least apologize. I fantasized about doing a major ecological burn and thoroughly enjoyed imagining certain things engulfed in flames. I envisioned an alternate garden, a kwoot widdle patio garden, so sweet and demure.
Feeling a lot better, I opened my eyes and was greeted by wonderful color. My garden gave me flowers, clearly as an apology and peace offering. Embarrassed, I apologized also and asked it to take me back. It smiled and said, "I'm not going anywhere."
Which is all very fine and good and smile smile smile happy, but... I still have one partway dug out juniper and six to go and, honestly, I'm tired. I don't know what the solution is. I don't know how to make a large garden smaller (I'm not ever going to convert beds to lawn and my plants are already low care, I never water!) or how to keep up with it more or how to regain some of the enthusiasm I once had.
I suspect it would help to do just a little bit every day, rather than feeling like I have to do perform big miracles all at once. And I think I just need to get back to work. Right after I have lunch.
P.S. My favorite ass-kickin' companion suggests 1) I learn to focus the camera and 2) to intimidate the problem out of existence! Easy peasy.
Added 9/18: Photo update. Three of the five shrubs in the first bed are dug out. Even though my BIL has a pickup and could probably get those chains for me, there isn't a clear path for a vehicle to access that bed. I found digging as far as I can and then soaking the hole for a few hours makes it possible to get at the deepest roots. A second bed has two really big ones and access to the street. I may ask my BIL for help but he has so many projects that I don't like to bother him if I can do it myself.