Thursday, May 2, 2013

Who can dig up a twenty-year old Spanish broom by the roots?

This girl.

I long have had a love/hate relationship with this Spanish broom (seen to the right of the fountain), planted when we first moved into our house.


To be frank, I think Spanish broom is pretty when it blooms in the spring, but the rest of the time it looks weedy. I thought so about this one, too, until I trained it into a tree standard and suddenly started to like it. Then I put a fountain between the broom and the vitex on the left and fell in love with the way the two small trees created a frame. The Spanish broom went from being a source of vexation for 11 months out of the year to helping create the sense of an airy, soothing oasis in the desert.

The problem was that the broom was dying. It started during a hard winter three years ago and has been slowly dying back, trunk by trunk, until this year there was only one viable trunk left, and it looked awkward and out of balance by itself. So I had two options: Cut it back to its roots (which were sending up shoots) and start the process of training a standard all over again, or remove it and plant something in its place. I chose the latter.

I wanted a small tree that would create the same airy framing effect, as well as provide some blooms, so last weekend I went down to the nursery and chose a Natchez crape myrtle:
 (By the way, notice that my Troy-bilt garden cart is exactly the same height as my little trailer. I just pull out the panel on the back, slide the 30-gallon container onto the cart, replace the panel, pull the load to th garden, take the panel out again and tilt the cart to slide the container off. Easy as pie.)

Then I cut down the broom:

And set to the task of digging up the roots:


I was anticipating that it would take two or three days of digging off and on, but it turned out to be relatively easy. With a shovel and an axe to cut the thick roots, it only took about fifteen minutes.

The crape myrtle is sitting inside the wood shop, out of the harm of the freezing temps that are predicted for tonight. I'll plant it sometime this weekend, and since digging out the roots has already left a fair-sized hole, it should be easy to do.

I'll miss the broom, but I think after a couple of years of settling in, the crape myrtle will fit in nicely.

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