Dead Wood

As much as I love summer, autumn presents opportunities. Like pruning limbs and cutting back branches in the garden. Cutting out the dead wood is important to the health of shrubs and other perennials. The weather was beautiful yesterday and the annoying insects were at a minimum so I cut down the dead bee balm stalks (a favorite of the resident hummingbird I will miss seeing out my bedroom window; I hope he comes back next year) and then went to work on the wild rosebush that had been nearly consumed by grape vine. The more I cut, the more of the bush I could see needed more cutting back.

First, I simply wanted to clear away the brush and vines from the path of the downspout. Then, the scraping sound the limbs made as they moved across the vinyl siding drove me mad so the whole back side of the bush had to be eliminated. Once you get started on a project like this, it’s hard to stop.

But eventually I did. Things look much better now. You can really see what’s there, what remains. You can see what was hidden. The vinca can breathe a little freer now, as can the tiger lilies. The air can move around the trunk of what’s left of the rose bush.

And, of course, by prunning, you allow for regrowth. The bush can send out stronger shoots rather than those long desperate tendrils that clamber up to the sun and rub against other limbs causing sores and cankers.

The lovely thing about plants is that they come back. As long as you pay attention, they come back stronger than ever. I need to remember to add compost, lay down a cover crop, weed.

In the garden as in life, you sometimes have to cut out the dead wood to allow for new growth.

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8 thoughts on “Dead Wood

  1. Ah, metaphor. Speaking of which, I still have your October 25 entry from last year posted at my desk. The more I read it, the more I love it. I have a feeling this one is going to get tacked up somewhere, too.

  2. I like this time of year, too. Here, it’s about to rain, so now is the time to get things in that you want to establish themselves before the next long dry spell. I’m looking at my garden, too, with an eye toward what I want next summer, because now’s the time to get it in.

    Should I cut down those bee balm stalks? Don’t the birds want the seeds?

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