Six years ago, we planted several raspberry plants along our back fence along with a bed of strawberries, two cherry trees and a couple grapevines. (We enjoy our homemade jams and jellies!) The front yard got an Autumn Purple Ash tree, surrounded by a bed of bulbs and perennials.
Fast forward to last summer when the raspberries really started taking over. New shoots cropped up everywhere, but they were manageable. Mostly in the right spots, even if they were annoying (and prickly) when harvesting the strawberries, cherries and grapes. I meant to corral them … but never quite got around to it.
Until this summer.
Instead of gallons of fresh strawberries in early June, we harvested one small bowl. The raspberries were choking them out and blocking the sunshine. Not only that, the cherry trees had whole sections without blossoms because they were being surrounded. Oh, and did I mention that baby raspberry plants were cropping up in the middle of the lawn?
What once was a small problem had become a major chore and took hours of work to dig up. And in the process, I discovered the cherry trees had sent up suckers last year. But they’d been hidden behind the raspberries and required a handsaw to cut them off at the ground.
Meanwhile, the bulbs in my front yard bloomed beautifully. The tree did not. I waited and waited, checking the ends of each twig for buds. Nothing. My neighbors all had leaves, but we didn’t. Because of a little ash borer bug (and his friends) who’d been living inside the trunk of our tree and destroying it from the inside out. I didn’t even know there was a problem until all that was left was a dry, cracked and lifeless shell of a tree.
So, because I hadn’t paid attention to the trunk or known that I should spray for bugs, we got to dig up the Ash tree and all of the surrounding bulbs and plants. And then plant a new tree. And new plants. And new mulch. And I’ll need to get new bulbs this fall.
The lessons I’ve learned? Pay attention to the little things. Take care of them early. And be aware of what’s going on under the surface – where unwelcome bugs and roots spread with destructive consequences.
What about you? Are you aware of what’s growing under the surface of your life? How do you take care of those areas?