Artists start with a blank canvas to create a lasting work of art. Unfortunately, we don't have that luxury when it comes to the outdoor projects at Glenlochan. When we bought the place, you could barely see the house from the road, it was so overgrown and vine covered (see Invasion of the Vines). And we battled the invasive bamboo for several years (see Me and My Machete). As such, the yard is far from a blank canvas, but for us to bring order and beauty to the years of neglect at Glenlochan, we need develop as close of an approximation to a blank canvas as possible. This means that, although we are focused on saving those trees and bushes that not only look good but that have a decent shot at survival, many must be cleared out, chopped down, trimmed, and otherwise pared back to create that almost blank canvas.
This involves a lot of manpower - ours and hired experts.
It involves grinding stumps - new and old:
Cutting down trees that cannot survive:
Trimming trees that don't endanger the house and have a fair chance of surviving:
And clearing, clearing, clearing:
We also consulted with a boxwood expert - about half of the yard's boxwoods are very old and very valuable English boxwoods. The rest are not worth keeping and we've been advised not to try to move any since chances of survival get dicey when they are dug up (even with a tree spade) and transplanted. So, we'll be swapping those that are not decent specimens with a new variety of boxwood (fast growing and hopefully decent size to start so we can achieve some symmetry). As to the English boxwoods, they will be pampered over the next few years - injections and cutbacks designed to revitalize their health and improve their appearance.
The boxwoods have a long way to go. And so do we! But we are definitely getting closer to that blank canvas.