GARDENING REQUIRES many leaps of faith, especially when you’re learning on the fly as I am (but then again, I suspect that’s what most gardeners do throughout their lives). This morning I took a giant leap, with Dong’s help. He arrived at 8AM, chain saw in hand. I was still in my pajamas, but no matter. This is the country. I went outside.
He was here to radically prune five overgrown rhododendrons that have towered over my East Hampton cottage since I bought it in May of ’09. Those rhodies bloom magnificently purple in mid-May, but 20 feet up, way over the roofline. I never really got to enjoy the flowers.
And though they sheltered the house and I enjoyed the sense of seclusion they provided, two close friends who are professional garden designers agreed they ought to be hacked back, both for appearance sake and the health of the shrubs. So when Mary-Liz visited two weeks ago, she got out her pink marking tape and, at my request, thoughtfully tied ribbons around each branch just where they should be cut. I could never have made those decisions myself.
Finally, this morning, Dong arrived to do the job. I held my breath. He buzzed his way through the five rhodies (Mary-Liz had suggested possibly leaving one large near the house, but when the other four were down, I thought it better to make them all uniform.) The operation was over before 9.
Suddenly the area feels bare. The side of the house is exposed in all its discolored cedar shingle glory. I looked at some nearby shade plants, like the pulmonaria under the magnolia, and thought, it’s not gonna be happy. Other things, however, probably will be very happy for the extra sun.
Am I happy? I’m afraid to go out and look again. But as Dong said, “Don’t worry. Next year it will all fill in.” Let us pray.