Perennial In Every Way

7 Years of NeglectWe bought this place in the mountains 7 or 8 years ago, although we just moved here at the end of 2011.  (Or I did… poor John spent another year driving back and forth to our previous state, tending to affairs, selling a house, etc.)

Way back then, the previous owner’s manicured perennial garden flaunted an array of foliage and blooms, causing me to gasp in delight!

If you look up perennial in the dictionary, this is what you’ll find:

per·en·ni·al  [puh-ren-ee-uhl] adjective

1. lasting for an indefinitely long time; enduring: her perennial beauty.

2. (of plants) having a life cycle lasting more than two years.

3. lasting or continuing throughout the entire year, as a stream.

4. perpetual; everlasting; continuing; recurrent.

Meet # 4.  Perpetual, everlasting, continuing, and recurrent.  

Four words accurately describe this overgrown plot of brambles, briers, and vines.  The multiflora rose, wild blackberry canes, and honeysuckle vines have enjoyed seven years of  freedom, sunshine in abundance and ample rain.  They are magnificent!  Tenacious!  THORNY.  They draw blood when you look at them.  About a week ago, I began to glimpse little flashes of yellow poking through the mess of weeds.  Harbingers of spring!  I decided the time has come to reclaim, re-manicure,  REVIVE this garden.

The “garden” is about 40 feet in diameter.  One enters it (or one used to) through a rustic, homemade arbor which is now rickety, but still standing.  I suspect that is the only benefit of the honeysuckle vine’s aggressive encroachment – it is holding these sticks together.  (This is the same arbor that hosted our swarm

The Clearing Begins

of honey bees last year.)  I vaguely recall stepping-stones on the other side of the arbor, a trellis or two, about 40 varieties of plants, and some chotchke, and I want it all back.  Well, not the chotchke.  That will go bye-bye.  I am not fond of cutesy things made of molded resin.

I decided to get started this past Saturday.  We had a breezy, sunny day with temperatures in the mid-sixties.  Perfect for the rough work of clearing evil, thorny things because it is still cool enough to wear a layers for protection.  I donned heavy boots, jeans, a couple of long-sleeved shirts and got out the pruning shears.  It is slow work, because I want to find and save plants as I go.  I enjoy it, despite the scratches and sore back that come with clearing monster vegetation.

After 3 hours I had uncovered about 4% of the garden, including a resin puppy with big eyes (bye-bye), a hunk of driftwood (a keeper), a glass hummingbird feeder (possible keeper), and a resin bird house wind chime, sans chimes (bye-bye).  I also uncovered a pretty row of daffodils!   This was an encouraging discovery.  I want MORE!  I know there is beautiful indigo, several varieties of lilies, fennel, crIMG_7559epe myrtle, poppies, columbine, cardinal-flower, red bud trees, and Russian sage.  I cannot for the life of me recall what else grows there, nor am I sure what has survived the neglect.   It’s like digging for buried treasure.


Unfortunately, 3 hours didn’t even get me to the first stepping stone on the other side of the arbor.  By my calculations, I will only need to spend another 72 hours of clearing.  Since I have all of 3 hours per week free, I should have this project wrapped up by the end of August.  By then, the vines will have had the summer to stretch themselves 3 or 4 feet for every foot of progress I make.  I picture them following me, creeping along, gaining on me like some creature in a Stephen King novel, and by the time the first tendril wraps around my ankle it will be too late.  John will find me wound round with thorny canes and roses and honeysuckle, scratched and unable to move more than an inch or two without bleeding, begging him to SAVE ME!

Perennial is a good word for this project, don’t you think?  I will post my progress this spring and summer.  If I disappear, please call my husband and tell him where I am.

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3 Comments on “Perennial In Every Way”

  1. LP Machin Says:

    Ha! Rent something or hire someone!! That way you can spend your 3 hours planting the fun stuff! Good luck with your project, I know it will be beautiful when you are done. I have your two egg blue big clay pots that could flank your arbor sticks! Oh, and thanks – I always wondered how one would spell chotchke!



  2. Jennifer Richardson Says:

    i had to dash over here and sign up
    cause i don’t want to lose touch with you
    ….i’d miss the maryness! besides, i didn’t know
    you were still blogging. how did i lose touch?
    anyway, happy Springing up there in those hills
    and i’ll miss you on fb:)



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