I'm currently engaged in a struggle that is testing my perseverance. I'm using all the means at my disposal but so is my combatant. It's come down to a battle of wills and I'm finding my resolve is waning. The thing is I don't know if I can win against it. It's large, severely well armored and ha a root system that would put a five hundred year old redwood tree to shame.
If you have ever attempted to remove a Juniper bush from the ground, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. These plants are the epitome of 'low maintenance'. You plant them in the spring of 1962 then forget about them for about forty years or so. Landscaping? Done.
The only catch is, once they're planted, they stay. They will quickly grow roots and anchor themselves roughly five thousand feet below the Earths crust. As you can imagine this makes them a little hard to remove. If you're lucky you will never have to deal with them. You'll kick the bucket first. Believe me you would rather die then try and uproot a Juniper. If you're unlucky you will purchase property with a number of these bushes and be asked to remove them. This will be said with the same sort of casual attitude as you would mutter, 'Lets order delivery tonight'.
As far as personal tastes go, I have to say I like the way a few Juniper bushes look in the front yard. They have a way of eating up a lot of empty space, they don't require hardly any pruning, and they stay green most of the year. My wife on the other hand, believes that they are the work of the Devil himself and has made it her personal mission to annihilate them from the face of the planet. This might be a bit harsh but needless to say, she isn't fond of them.
So as a compromise I decided to prune back our rather large Juniper bush that was encroaching on the driveway. In my head I pictured a sort of bonsai looking tree in the front yard. You know a nice thick truck with a dozen or so limbs all branched out evenly with a sort of wind blown and 'natural' feel. I have discovered that making something look natural is one of the most difficult feats of man.
It seems the Juniper doesn't want to be changed, and is working hard to stop my efforts. I have been cut, bruised, scraped and generally mistreated by this seemly innocent bush. Additionally I found it to be home to one of my least favorite species. Apparently spiders love Junipers. So instead if taking the time required to meticulously prune it, I started to hack at the bush in hopes of finishing a little sooner. I found that while I was 'shaping' it, branches were cut that should have been left alone. This cannot be undone, no matter how hard you try. Just 'putting them back' it will not help you. Luckily the yard waste container reached it's limit and my efforts had to be delayed till another day.
If all this weren't enough I also discovered that I am quite allergic to the plant. I spent most of Saturday recovering from my couple hour of gardening, by simultaneously, sneezing my head off, blowing my nose and gushing water from my irritated eyes. I'm toying with the idea that I might just be allergic to working at all, but I still have a long way to go till I can prove that. I'm only about a quarter done with the Junipers 'transformation' but so far I don't feel that good about it.
This newly misshapen Juniper bush of mine, that once looked like an overgrown, but lovable shaggy dog, now has the look of a miserable wet cat. No one wants a wet cat bush in front of their house.
So tonight the yard waste bin should be empty and I'll have another crack at it. I'm doping up with Benadryl, breaking out the long sleeves, the heavy gloves and firing up the chain saw. Tomorrow I'll either have a delightful Juniper bonsai in the front yard or an ugly bare stump. At the moment, I don't care which.
The Continuing Saga: Juniper Roots