September 6th, 2007
Let the Sunshine In

Zanthan Gardens
2007-09-06. After the tree-trimming…the big sky and lots of sun in the lower meadow. I’ll finally be able to grow some native xeriscape flowers. (Yes those red blotches are oxblood lilies.)

The effect of opening up the garden to the sky is a bit disconcerting (in a good way). Have you ever watched a cat enter a room where you’ve rearranged the furniture or put up a Christmas tree. They saunter in, notice the change, and then jump in alertness. “Hmmm. Something’s different.” That’s how I felt every time I wandered into the back yard today or looked out the kitchen window. The change is like a physical blow. Look at all that sky!

When I had trees trimmed last March, I saved some of the work for fall because the meadow was in full bloom and I couldn’t stand the thought of it being trampled on the one time of the year it looks really nice. (No matter how careful the workers, trying to maneuver huge tree limbs to the ground requires a bit of tramping through the flower beds.)

I created the first problem. Over 11 years ago, a cedar elm tree in the middle of our lawn fell in a storm. After the stump was cut down to the ground, it resprouted and I let the sprouts grow. First it was my bonzai project. Then it was a way of creating some privacy for the back porch. Several excuses and 11 years later it was a nuisance, shading the meadow and the iris bed, dropping leaves and seeds into the pond. In order to connect the back patio to the new garden house, I intend to make an entirely new garden. Now was the time to get rid of it.

Zanthan Gardens
The before shot…my bonzai project got out of hand. Lots of good firewood though.

Ever since last year when our neighbor to the north erected a privacy fence, effectively giving us a New Back Yard, I’ve had plans to transform the north border. The biggest problem is the amount of shade. Looking at all the lovely flowers in England this summer, I resolved that I was going to get rid of the weedy hackberry and chinaberry trees.

Zanthan Gardens

I’ve hated this messy chinaberry for years. It drops zillions of seeds, all of which sprout. And it arches over the meadow shading out all the flowers.

Zanthan Gardens

Now the ‘Heritage’ rose (that spindly bush on the right) should get enough light to thrive. And I can get ready for fall planting. Is it time to fall in love with roses again?

by M Sinclair Stevens

7 Responses to post “Let the Sunshine In”

  1. From Steve Mudge (Dallas):

    This spring we took out a huge Hackberry and also a Pecan tree…we didn’t want to cut the Pecan down but it was growing mostly in the neighbor’s yard trying to outrun the shade from the American Elm which necessarily shades our house in the summer. The Hackberry was diseased and dropping limbs onto our garage. When the trees were gone we were ecstatic over the amount of light–on top of that we were now able to have a big veggie garden and see the stars at night.

    Not wanting to waste those good trees though, the Hackberry will be used for firewood, the Pecans smaller branches are used for the BBQing and smoking(yum!) and the larger branches and trunks I had milled into planks for a new countertop and cabinets…only downside to that is waiting the year for the wood to cure and dry out!

    Does a hackberry make good firewood? I thought it was too soft and gummy. I had both the hackberry and the chinaberry hauled off. Although I had all the smaller bits ground into mulch. I’ll be spreading that all over the back, especially over the construction devastation. I may have to move my veggie garden to the north border. — mss

  2. From kate (Canada):

    Letting the sunshine in is often the best thing. You’ll be able to grow lush roses again and also you won’t have the constant irritation of a tree that drops a gazillion seeds.

    I’m looking forward to tearing out all that nandina and having a real perennial border. (Well, not like an English perennial border but something with flowering bushes and shrubs. Yes, and roses.) — mss

  3. From M2 in Bothell:

    Yeah, you’re a meadow girl. And a meadow is, by definition, a no-tree zone. For shade you’re just gonna have to do the gazebo (little house project) and roses trellis and what have you. I love trees — although oddly I have none now — but you … tree whackage is the answer, I’m afraid.

    Am I a meadow girl? It’s true that the first garden I started was the meadow. And I love Texas wildflowers. But I always think of myself as a wood nymph. I love the smell of the damp forest floor, the green shade, and the sheltering trees. Let me sing you Songs from the Wood. –mss

  4. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    That is a big change. But one you’ll appreciate come spring, I’ll bet, when your new sun-lovers start blooming. I’ve shaded out one side of my sunny front yard with small trees, but I’m determined to keep the other side open, even though the house gets hot over there.

    I’ll be happy if any of the things I already have planted start blooming: the vitex, the butterfly iris you gave me, the red yucca, the desert willow, and the desert willow vine, the Mexican buckeye, and the four remaining rose bushes that survived last year. Yes, and next spring I hope to have as many larkspur as I did ten years ago. That was something…and it’s never happened since. — mss

  5. From Annie in Austin:

    It should be be very interesting to see what happens as the seasons progress, MSS – bet you will see some response from seeds and plants that have lain dormant in the shadow.
    They will know that the cedar elm is gone!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    [Maybe I am part cat? I’m frequently startled at the sight of the Christmas tree for the first few mornings after it’s up.]

    We finally put the closet doors in the kitchen last weekend and every time I walked into the room, I jumped. It was so weird seeing a wall out of the corner of my eye instead of the old water heater and air-conditioner. It was like waking suddenly from a strange dream. — mss

  6. From Steve Mudge:

    Re: Hackberry as firewood–well, its not great firewood but it burns, eh, okay, so I was told by a couple people…but Texas trees are a new thing for me(except for Mesquite which also grows in my former haunts in California) so we’ll find out!

  7. From Angelina:

    It sounds like you’re making some good transformations in the yard.

    I am falling for roses again right now.