Shrub or beast?
The tale of making a garden picks up about 4 months after move-in day.
The raised beds and borders are taking shape over lengthy work days. The process: deep-digging; removing buried debris; implementing with soil amendment; outlining planting areas with field stones and pavers.
As mentioned, this period coincided with an El Nino winter of insistent rain. I apply a thick layer of newspaper over the paths, before covering them with blue river rocks. In this way, the gravel rests lightly over the hardpan soil.
A cast stone bench is selected, and I build a blue arbor to surround it.
The arbor backs up against a California privet.
When the space was cleared, some half-dozen trees and shrubs remained (along with 1 wild rose / soon to take the spotlight). All grew at points around the perimeter of the garden.
To my eye, the privet seemed innocuous. A not-too-tall evergreen, multi-trunk tree. It looked fit to provide a bit of shade for the small patio being carved out.
A year passes. One day a savvy horticulturist drops by for a visit. Looking at the privet, she comments offhandedly, “Well, you’ll want to take that out...maybe plant a Michelia in its place.”
I had yet to realize it was a noxious weed. By now, the privet’s canopy is increasing in the new garden setting. Its production of flower clusters also increases, followed by masses of seeds that rampantly self-sow in the enriched soil.
I encourage Tom to prune it, heavily! I ask him to clip the flower clusters as soon as they form.
He prunes and he prunes. The privet responds by producing a bonanza of blooming pom-poms.
The Agony of of making a garden takes many forms.
A few years ago, Tom devoted 2 days a week - over 3 months in the fall - to cutting down the privet limb by limb, using hand saws - no power tools for my guy.
BTW, privet seedlings still appear in the garden. Seeds of invasive plants have a long life span.