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The death of a plant is an opportunity. I felt the same way about my marriage(s).

If I continue to battle the viburnum beetle, I have a couple of replacements in mind for the bare spots they would leave. The weigelia got ripped out even though they were healthy. The spirea are going to follow this year I think. Life is too short to live with something that isn't giving you pleasure.

I totally ROTFLOL right now. Michele, I want you to know that reading your description of New Dawn's bloom as 'a thousand flesh-colored, hybrid tea-like perfect blooms' may have just pushed me over the edge towards tackling the removal of my own plant from its place in the sun. Fortunately I planted mine, decades ago, in the perfect spot for climbing roses in my benighted climate. Unfortunately I planted New Dawn. Oh yes it is bulletproof, and it blooms its socks off every spring. But oh, how boring the color. How unfragrant the blossoms. And yikes-a-rama: the tangle of thorny hooks on its far-wandering branches! Conventional wisdom is that we can't grow climbing roses here in the central Oregon desert. Conventional wisdom never whispered in New Dawn's shell-like ear, for mine took hold with a grip of iron and has been known to thrust itself 30 feet up in an aging apple tree. We named ours Darth Rose, and every year I have to go out two or three times during the summer and rescue both our clothesline and the multitude of Princes that have become enmeshed in its vicious clutches. Why oh why didn't I plant something prettier and more fragrant, all those years ago?
I grok the fence/beautiful tangle of harmonious plants thing. We faced a similar problem 1 years ago when we replaced a 40-year-old falling-down basket-weave cedar (ugh) fence. I whacked, the fence guys wore motorcycle leathers (just kidding) and the lilac & Darth got knocked back somewhat.
Over the last 2 very dry winters, though, Darth has experienced a severe setback. He is looking brown and dead except for a few measly branches near the roots. Maybe this is the year I bit the bullet, pull on my suit of armor and Take The Bad Boy Out!
Great post! Death makes way for something new!

Telekia syn. Inula Love this shady daisy.

Ned, love the Darth Rose nickname! I have a new favorite climber every few years, but Russelliana wears the crown currently:

Only blooms once, in fluorescent purple, but I've never gotten a single repeat bloom from 'New Dawn" either--though in theory it is suppose to produce them.

You've given me the resolve to take out a pyrocanthus. Two or three weeks of beautiful glowing red berries does not balance a season of scrapes every time I walk by.

By the way, my New Dawn somehow managed to do itself in.

Ha! And keeping to the movie theme, paraphrasing Woody Allen, a garden is like a shark; it has to constantly move forward or it dies. Or gets too shady or fences lean, etc.

A trio of trite phrases apropos to the situation:
"Nature abhors a vacuum."
"Survival of the fittest."
"No good deed goes unpunished."

When I decided that I was tired of dead looking roses all winter, I asked my husband(who earns the money to pay for my gardening habit) if he would mind if I pulled out the roses and went to conifers and rhododendrons. He said nothing and after breakfast was out in the rain digging out roses. Guess the answer was yes! I am much happier without blackspot!

I was prepared to comment gracefully in agreement about the fence line, but the last comment threw me off...NO ROSES? How would one survive?

If one would grow roses, one must take the thorns, and blackspot, and aphids....

One marriage here to a very patient non-gardener...and I've planted trees on the prairie for my grandchildren to enjoy.

HA! I have always said to my pals & students at our community garden that the best gardeners are ruthless. And thankfully, I have successfully persuaded every client who ever wanted a New Dawn, to choose some other rose.

I just moved my New Dawn rose too! And it broke my pruning sheers in the process. So many people were getting hurt by those aggressive canes.

You've helped explain my ability to leave with almost no remorse my 26-year-old garden that had no room for anything new - because I get to try so many new-to-me plants. Also, I now live 5 minutes from a great garden center - my home away from home.
Photos and full report coming soon!

Susan, of course I was thinking of you!

Great post! A few months ago my son moved into a new apartment and one of the first things I wanted to know was which windows were south-facing, and what kind of light he gets on his balcony :)

I have enjoyed immensely watching a garden mature, get shadier, and change over 20 years. I would hate to miss how it will keep changing in the next twenty. Theres nothing to stop one from ripping out a tree or making drastic changes, but usually a couple of volunteer sessions at the botanical garden cures this... there space allows for experiments impossible or too costly at home.

I've been thinking a lot about this because I have had to leave behind lots of gardens in the past and while I'm sometimes sad I won't get to see them mature I am always looking forward to the next garden.

My current garden at my rental is one I hope to have for a number of years and I worry that something might happen and I may be forced to move out. I also worry because my town is converting from septic to sewers so I know at some point they will have to remove the septic tank and connect pipes from the street to the yard which will cut through a huge chunk of gardens. I worry about these things for a bit and then just think "Well then I'll just start over."

love the post and comments.

i'm at a beginning stage (5th growing season), and after much destruction of junk trees, etc. - i'm settling in to watch it "mature" (very long process with bareroot plugs - sigh).

whether the death of a plant is intentional or not, i've finally learned to accept the loss as an opportunity, even when it is brought on by squirrels.

Maybe I'm not a gardener after all. I'm hanging onto the Apricot tree despite the fact that I'm the only one in the family who eats the fruit, it's disease-prone, the roots are invading the irrigation & drainage systems ... and mentally I've replaced it with a dozen other fruit trees. It's a pretty tree otherwise, & some lovely shade-loving perennials enjoy life beneath its branches. Removing it would make that climbing Joseph's Coat rose & Jackmanii clematis flourish in the newly-revealed sun. Yet, I can't do it. Instead I cram more and more of the things I could put there into every other corner of my yard.

I do like to makeover other parts of the yard. The small area in front of the big picture window has been re-designed 10 times in as many years. But still the apricot stays ...

Anne, our 30 year old sun is also moving into a new apartment, I asked the exact same question. This is only my 3rd year of gardening (HE is the one that suggested that I start) and sadly last year his best friend from High School was killed in an auto accident and we lost my brother-in-law to cancer, don't know how I would have gotten thru the 2 deaths without my garden. I am headed to Prides Crossing, Massachusetts for his Graduation of his Master's Degree in Special Education in 2 weeks and will then be heading to Wethersfield Seed Gardens to supply his new deck and kitchen window sill with Heirloom Plants.

Good luck on the new bed. It really is necessary, by the looks of that fence.

Yes, a mature gardener does learn to be ruthless and take out plants that don't do well, or just aren't right for the space! Just one example: I ripped out Artemsia 'Valerie Finnis' once I realized it was a floppy, invasive mess. I was talking about new gardens just this morning with my partner; we plan to move when she gets her nursing degree next year.

I'm excited, yet know I will shed not a few tears over my garden that I've had for 17 years. I'm thinking I ought to start a list of "must-haves" for the new place. I know for certain I will be looking at the lot just as carefully the actual house!

I laugh at your New Dawn. She is the daintier daughter of the Good Doctor - Dr. Van Fleet. Now that is a rose that takes no prisoners.

Do gardeners want to put down deep roots, plant trees, and watch them ever so slowly become massive and still presences in the landscapes of their personalities?

Yes some of us do. Some of us never intend to leave our gardens again.

Do gardeners strive to take a slice of earth stuck in this noisy contemporary moment and make it timeless, to express some eternal mystery in the relationship between humanity and nature?

I have to do something with all these rocks, so yes some of us do.

A gardener can be ruthless and strive for more permanent good bone structure that will out last them, all in the same garden.

Glad to hear others see their "gardenocidal" tendencies as allowing new opportunities for the garden-it is what gave me the strength and stamina to take out a William Baffin rosebush!

I guess I fall in with Christopher C NC above.

The main reason I haven't moved from my too-big house is because of the garden. I cried each time I thought about leaving it, and the twit who approached me to buy my house didn't want a garden at all. It's not all about money for me.

My garden is my art/creation/sanctuary/escape. When no one understands or accepts me, my garden always does.

I want my garden to be there forever or at least until I die.

I accept change, but only when absolutely necessary for good reason. This is probably why I don't rearrange my furniture and also why I felt so guilty pulling out a dying rosemary a few days ago. :-)

Every gardener is different. I personally hate killing plants. I blame it on Roald Dahl's BFG. It has been years and years since I read that book, but I will never forget when he says that he can hear plants screaming when children pick their flowers.

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