In a New Light

Submitted by Virginia Watts on Thu, 07/09/2015 - 18:49


Today my garden is in shock. The Maple Tree is gone, and all that remains to remind us is a stump. Everything that grew in its protective shade has either withered completely, or expressed grave trauma. The grass that was lush and green beneath the tree turned brown overnight. The bed of rosemary and lavender was buffeted and branches broken in the process of removing the eighty foot tree; there was no way to avoid that.  

And today I have done further damage to the rosemary and lavender as I try to reorder, prune back, and encourage new growth. It is going to take some time before we can see real signs of recovery. The light is so different now. There is so much more of it, and in this hot hot California summer, it can burn new growth and damage old growth, too.

I am glad to see the white roses bravely blooming, and with their backs a little straighter. I am happy the bees are still busy in what is left of the lavender and rosemary.

I placed a saucer of water for the birds on the top of the stump. It's not a level place, so some of it has run out already, but I am hopeful some who used to stop for shade or rest will find a different kind of refreshment now, and return often.

The mockingbirds and jays have not let us forget that they are unhappy with this new arrangement. They line up on the utility wires at the back of our property and tell us exactly what they think. I agree with all of them. 

This new lighting will require big adjustments for all of the life in the backyard, including the humans who inhabit it daily. It's not like rearranging furniture when you have a stain on the rug. This new development will take much planning, research, and a lot of patience. 

I am not big on patience, as some may quite readily tell you. So I have been researching fast growing trees, vines, bushes -- anything that will quickly cover up the sad, sorry state of a San Fernando Valley backyard that has suffered so sorrowfully, and at such a cruel time of year for new planting. What I know is I will have to learn some patience -- quickly. Is that possible? 

It's been hard to even venture out there to make an assessment. I avert my eyes quickly when I forget and look out the back windows.

Then I think of those who have lost homes from war, flood, or fire, and I feel pathetically self-absorbed.

So I go out and look around. Almost immediately I come back inside and do more research on fast-growing plants.

Today I did spend some real time, though, with clippers and a faint determination to begin to cultivate new views, refresh old plants, and consider. Today I've been lucky because we have had some lovely clouds that have softened the harsh light and heat. Today I am able to feel gratitude for what was, and hope for what might begin.

You can't always have that lovely dappled light that comes through the green green leaves. Sometimes you have to accept the bright, harsh light that shines into all the corners of your space, giving you opportunity you neither asked for nor want. Cultivating patience -- my new opportunity. May it be a fast grower.