Storm Damage or Garden Opportunity?

My daughters often accuse me of being a pessimist, which may be a natural inclination or a learned trait from my early career as a journalist. Whatever. I can barely contain my joy at the storm damage we incurred this Saturday.

garden with large shrubs
The garden before with massive sumacs looming above it.

While many of our friends and neighbors lost big trees or faced hours (more than 24 in a few cases) without power, we only dealt with the uprooting of three overgrown sumacs at the back of our yard. I had trimmed these guys back earlier this summer in an attempt to open up the bed they are in, but there is only so much you can do with an overgrown sumac. Did I mention the suckers? These plants send shoots up all over the bed and into the meadow behind it, making sucker pulling one of my most frequent garden chores.

So, after cutting the dangerous or damaging branches out of the rubble Saturday, I called a local landscaper to have him come to pull out the stumps and  — while he’s at it – take out the overgrown burning bush and lilacs nearby, too. My plan is to just look at this area for a month or so and put some new things in later in the fall. An evergreen might be nice, maybe one with blue needles? Or a weeping variety? How about a smokebush or three? Possibly a serviceberry or another hardy Minnesota shrub?

storm damaged shrubs
Oh my. It will be a big change when this large shrub is moved out. Let the sun shine in.

I’m planning to look long and hard at the borrowed view I get from my neighbor’s beautiful evergreens there, and try to plant something to complement that aspect. My other mantra will be “not too much.” While the temptation is always to put in more plants to make a bed look good right away, I know from experience how quickly plants grow to mature size and how much hassle it is to have plants that are too big for their space.

The prospect of this unexpected garden opportunity has me feeling positively optimistic!

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