Summer 2013: Soon after the garden tour in which my garden was featured, something happened that changed my mood from cheerful and optimistic to gloomy and depressed.
Returning from somewhere and approaching my house, I noticed something strange and different on the south side of it.
It didn't look the same way it used to look.
Sky! I saw sky where a huge alder tree's crown used to be.
This is the spring picture. In summer, when leaves are opened,
this huge piece of sky was barely seen through the alder's foliage.
I remembered that my neighbor told me about the tree removal. It spread its branches toward their house and instead of trimming, the tree company suggested cutting it down. This is what happened.
Notice the difference.
Left: multiple alder's trunks can be seen. Right: the trunks are gone
It looked like a battle scene. I couldn't believe my eyes. Where there was formerly shady coziness, now bright light and heat invaded the area.
Rhododendron, hydrangea, Fuchsia magellanica, epimedium, tetrapanax, helleborus, corydalis, groundcovers.... everything looked hurt, miserable and pitiful.
This corner of the garden was always cool and shady, even in the hottest days. The alder's crown created a huge canopy. Every time, when I entered it, I felt like I was stepping into my private cozy and a bit mysterious world.
After several minutes of absolute disbelief and astonishment, I started to run back and forth bringing whatever I could find to protect the plants. Umbrellas, towels... It was like trying to help something that was already dead.
And yes, I cried. And cried. And cried. Never in my life had I experienced such loss in my garden.
After several days of pure suffering, I decided that I needed to do something to return the shade and, most importantly, my sanity. I needed a new canopy!
This canopy, which was intended to replace the alder tree's canopy, would be enough to protect all the space from the sun, but at least, I'd have my cool cozy corner back.
My working table is located there, and often, if not working, I like to sit there and read or just admire the peace and quiet.
This part certainly should be covered
Arches should be built and vines should be planted to envelope them to create a canopy above part of the former shade garden.
Wooden posts would be too heavy and take too much space.
Another material was chosen, light in its weight and appearance: Re-bars which are inexpensive, relatively thin and aesthetically rustic.
My fellow gardener, Karen, who has a beautiful garden, and her wonderful handy husband, Al, came to my help. Al constacted four arches and we attached them to the house' wall.
At the base of three arches, I planted grapevines. I didn't buy the vines. They grew from the grape branches which I used as green peas' support in my kitchen garden. I believed, the branches were dry and dead, but they rooted and grew into nice plants.
My plan was to let the vines climb the re-bar arches and create shade for my plants. Grapevines are easy to trim, so I could adjust the thickness of the canopy.
Grapevines are tied to the re-bars
Tree fuchsia looked droopy during the hottest hours, but nevertheless it gave me an abundance of flowers later in August.
Houseplants, of course, couldn't be left here and were moved to the other part of the garden.
House plants used to stand on the working table which never had so much sun
before the tree removal.
In 2014, the grapevines didn't grow enough to climb to the whole length of the bars, but nevertheless showed good potential.
And, I got a good place to hang my rustic lanterns:
All the plants looked good, except for the hydrangea that had some of its leaves scorched.
Rhododendron and Tetrapanax were the most responsive to the sun they got.
Tetrapanax is reaching the roof and its leaves are huge:
I am waiting for the next season to see some shade above the stone path and my seating place. I want my shade garden back, although now there will be more light for the plants. I hope we all will be happy.
This corydalis wasn't affected much by the tree removal, but another one needed to be moved to a different spot.
Strawberry saxifrage, toad lily, ferns, native heuchera, trillium and some others stayed under protection of arborvitae and didn't suffer:
The part of the baby tears groundcover on the right managed to escape the shock, and the left part somehow adjusted to the sunny conditions. It'll get more shade under the growing grapes.
All in all, the plants demonstrated a great resilience and willingness to adopt to the new light situation.
I should mention two positive things which came as a result of cutting that huge alder tree. First, there is no need now to pick up thousands of seeds - time-consuming and irritating task. Second, Karen, being a very creative, talented lady, made a sculpture from one of the survived leaves of the tetrapanax. She took it from the plant before it got killed by the sun and now, I have this lovely piece in my garden.
It could sound a bit pathetic, but my situation also made me think about the global situation. In my case, only one single tree was cut, and seeing what happened to the plants and to myself was pretty scary. But, every year, millions of trees are being cut down everywhere. What is going to happen to the planet? Losing the shade and comfort which they provide is not an attractive prospect.
Further, there are some more pictures of my healing shade garden in 2014.
The entrance as it looked in October:
All of the upper part in the next picture used to be green because of the alder tree.
I do love sun, but I have sun gardens in other parts of our property.
Morning sun coming to the shade garden is soft and gentle:
Afternoon is getting hotter, brighter and washes out many colors:
By the early evening, the garden is shady and welcoming again.
We'll see what 2015 brings. I hope there won't be any negative surprises.