Saturday, April 01, 2006


Earlier this week, a friend taught me how to trim our rhododendrons. This turned out to be a lot of fun.

I'm not much of a gardener. I don't find most gardening enjoyable or relaxing, and the plants often don't find my efforts helpful.

But trimming rhododendrons is quite foolproof. The plants have potential branches all over, and many bifurcations. Thus I do not need to worry about finding a node to cut just beyond, nor the angle of the cut. I just cut off dead branches past the fork they originate at. And the dead branches are usually dried and come off readily, like a berry ripe for picking.

Also, in the back yard my nemeiss is sticks. We have a push mower, which can be clogged by even small twigs. I spend a lot of time picking up sticks from the lawn. Normally the last thing I want to do is produce more sticks for our yard waste bin. But rhododendrons like having their toes in a thick layer of leaves and pieces of twigs, so all I have to do while trimming them is use the pruners to cut the pruned branches into small pieces. That's quick and easy.

It's also true that the yard's spiders have not woken up from winter yet. We get lots of spiders in the summer. They are small and harmless, but their webs can be annoying. So it was nice to not have to swat webs out of the way before climbing into the rhododendrons. (The squirrels are back, but they're not a big deal. We have live traps.)

Finally and best, a rhododendron with its dead branches removed is more hollow inside. Since the rhododendrons are taller than I am, the result is large enough to stand in comfortably -- or for some of the rhododendrons, even climb around inside. As a child I used to love bushes that were "forts". Now I get to make lots of them! However, eating lunch inside one wasn't as innately entertaining as I remembered.