Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Is it too late to get back my redbud tree?

My husband and I bought our first house in my hometown almost thirteen years ago. We now live somewhere else, of course, but that house was the first blank slate we ever had the chance to impose our own tastes on.

The yard, in particular, was the blankest of slates. The house was twenty-two years old when we moved in, and in all that time, the former owners had planted one tree and three arbor vitae shrubs. The tree, a yellow maple, was slightly sickly looking, with sucker branches growing out of its trunk at strange angles. The arbor vitae hedge, located squarely beneath the bedroom windows in the front of the house in that really special and imaginative 1970s "landscaping", was wildly overgrown and lent a certain Sleeping-Beauty-lives-here air to the place.

Other than those things, there wasn't a tulip bulb, not a single climbing rose, not even the merest trace of ajuga. Nothing but yard running right up to the house. It made the house look very naked and vulnerable and when I hung some simple tab-top curtains across the broad front window, I was forcibly reminded of a woman flinching in her gynecologist's examination room as she braced herself for a pap smear.

So my husband and I spent hours and hours digging in that fearsome Indiana soil that is partly God's good fertile earth, but mostly God's unyielding limestone. We labored and we sweat. Well, to be completely honest, my husband was doing the laboring and sweating and I was standing there with a spade, bossing him around. But you know what I mean.

In the end, we planted two dwarf burning bushes in a strange little empty bed at the side of the garage that was growing nothing but milkweed and poison ivy, and then lined the front walk with two dwarf yews, two cotoneasters and a couple of rusty-red shrubs with prickers on them that I can't remember the name of. I planted ajuga and periwinke where we needed ground cover and it grew without a fuss. But the crowing glory of our first attempts at landscaping was the gorgeous redbud tree we planted in the back, outside the kitchen window.

I wasn't really all that fond of the house, which was a rectangular shoebox of a place. I like the house we live in now about seven million times better. But I was attached to that landscaping, I really was. It was the product of time and money and many hours spent poring over gardening books at the public library and my husband and I told one another with shy pride that we'd really done pretty well, considering our inexperience.

We drove by the old place today on our way to Nanny and Poppy's (they took us out for lunch today -- thank you, Nan and Pop!) and I almost slammed on the brakes in total shock and sat there in front of the house with my eyes out on stalks.

THOSE PEOPLE have torn every single growing thing out of the front yard except for that sad maple tree and the grass. Every. Single. Thing. I can't say I was all that sad to see those huge arbor vitae shrubs gone, but my gorgeous dwarf burning bushes? Why? They were so beautiful in the fall. And what about all the rest of it? They'd better be replacing it all with something even better, that's all I've got to say. Because if the house looked nekkid and shamed before, it now looks nekkid and shamed and as if it knows that the paper gown the nurse handed it is not going to be nearly big enough to provide adequate coverage.

1 comment:

Kbg said...

I am truly impressed that you held yourself in check and did not march up to that front door and let those people in on a few of your thoughts about the new landscaping. Very impressed. I know how hard that must have been for you...LOL. One nice thing about building across the street from our old house (with very nice landscaping that we also did from the ground up...I am so in love with those trees that we planted as little baby trees) is that I get to see it every day...and I have so enjoyed watching those trees grow over the years! They have added a couple of new things, but not much...and when one of the trees got hit by a big storm a few years back, I took it as a personal compliment that they replanted with the same type of tree...how cool was that for the ego? You want me to go up to that door and have a few words with them about tearing out your bushes? I'd be happy to do that for you...of course, I would say my name was Shelley and give them your number...LOL.