When we moved into our house years ago, the garden was still at its peak. It had the right balance between there being plenty of plant cover, but not being too overgrown. A long severe drought during 2009/2010 helped keep the undergrowth in check. Then at the end of 2010 the rains returned and the garden blossomed and grew and grew. At first it was quite exciting, but later it just became difficult to deal with. Our gardener was increasingly absent (partly due to health issues), and when he was around, he was fighting a losing battle. I was beginning to feel like the princess in Sleeping Beauty. As Wikipedia describes the story: “A forest of trees, bushes and brambles sprang up around the castle, shielding it from the outside world: no one could try to penetrate it without facing certain death in the thorns“. From the house we couldn’t see out onto the road, and from the road, you couldn’t see the house. Which I suppose had some advantages . . .
Recently, we decided drastic action was necessary and we employed the services of Bruce (a local landscape designer) and his crew. He promised to de-jungle our front garden within two days. Working with only a small crew on what were two of the hottest and most humid days this summer, they got started. With Bruce cheerfully uttering the words “Don’t be alarmed if you see piles of vegetation on your lawn . . . it’s all part of the process“. Good thing he said that. Panic set in as I watched from the windows while trees and shrubs were severely pruned, and ground covers were ripped out. Bruce worked just as energetically as his men, taking on the task of climbing palm trees to prune off the dead fronds. And getting up onto the roof to prune the Bougainvillea which covered much of a wall and part of a window, and was threatening to take over the roof too. At the end of the first day, one of the ladies living in our neighbourhood was walking her dogs past our yard. She stopped to say how much better the garden was looking already! Our very overgrown garden obviously wasn’t fitting in, in a neighbourhood where most people have beautiful and well-tendered gardens. As Willie later said, she’s probably relieved that we are at last “getting with the programme”!
As promised, within two days our garden looked very different. I do think it’s an improvement – some beautiful plants were being completely overwhelmed and hidden, and the trees and shrubs look much better for having been pruned. But I do miss the ground covers that were there. Not only did they keep the dust as bay, they also have such pretty little flowers. Bruce told me he dislikes ground covers because after a couple of years they form dense mats which are impossible to prune. One basically has to rip them out and start again.
Now we have a garden that is much emptier, with large areas of bare ground for which we need to find suitable plants. A fresh start.
Below are some photographs to illustrate the transformation. The “after” shots were taken at the end of Day 1, when most of the huge piles of vegetation had already been removed from the lawn.
What I will miss though is the pretty little flowers which the various groundcovers produced. Like the ones below . . .