I’ve always loved the saying, “Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.” Sometimes it’s easy to let things go. I have no problem pulling out a plant that’s under-performing or one that has died. Other times it’s an incredibly difficult challenge. This fall I had to let go of a beloved Rhododendron hybrid that has been on the property since I purchased my home 22 years ago. While the blooms of my Rhododendron were nice, I adored the structure of the shrub most. This particular plant had a low branch that reached out like an outstretched arm over the back side of the water feature. I think the birds loved this branch as much as I did. They often perched there to dry off after a bath or waited there for their turn in the upper basin.
Earlier this year I noticed the plant was in decline. My beloved branch was barely hanging on as interior rot limited the flow of nutrients. I made the decision to remove the shrub. I could have taken the debris to a local compost site or run the remnants through my chipper/shredder. Instead, I decided to repurpose the shrub into some temporary, decorative components in my garden.
The branch I loved so much became a guard rail of sorts on the path behind my water feature. In its new home, the branch still serves as a perch for nearby birds and critters. The rest of the shrub was turned upside down into a sculpture. Now it frames the water feature in a different way. This new garden element needs a topper which I’ve yet to discover. I’m open to reader ideas on what would look best.
In the spot where the Rhododendron lived for many years, I planted a Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Compacta.’ While small in stature now, I’m confident this new addition will settle in and grow into a stately backdrop for the water feature and a habitat for my feathered friends.
The next time you have to let go of something you love, do your best to embrace the change and the results. Like me, you might find joy in the transformation.