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All about Change – the Azalea bed, then and now

If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.  ~ Author Unknown

I’ve long hung on to the overgrown trees I inherited in my garden, believing that excessive cutting back or pruning would change things radically. I was wary of changing things too much. Mostly, I was wary of losing my fiercely guarded privacy. You see, I’m a very private person, reclusive some will tell you. And mostly, I liked it that way.

And then I started this blog, and suddenly, things were a bit less private. Strangers were “looking” over my walls and into my garden. It actually felt quite nice. Some of those strangers have become gardening buddies and I look forward to their virtual visits to my garden and mine to theirs. Then it dawned on me … perhaps cutting back a tree or two to let in some more light was not such a bad thing after all. Maybe just prune back a little … and so we did. And guess what? Nothing terrible happened. In fact, the sun peeped through and it made both the plants and me smile a bit. Perhaps time to prune back a bit more? Let more light in? Why not?

Get the tree feller in, see what he says. He said two trees HAD to go or they would cause problems with the foundations of my house within the next two years. Oh dear … more loss of privacy? He chopped them down. Then he cut back the others. Hard. Quite a shock to my system. It’s taken quite a while for me to get used to all the light (and seeing some neighbour roofs). But I’m still here, nothing bad happened and … now I like it! I can see the mountain – I have a view! And I see the sun and the sun sees my plants and they seem to be smiling back with their lovely blooms.

Today I’d like to share with you the jungle I was hiding in and how I have transformed this area which I call the “Azalea Bed” over the last three years …

Before – no light, no sun, just overgrown trees

After – Now in September 2011

After - September 2011

More “Before and Afters”

[one_half]Before – Dexter as a puppyDecember 2007 - Dexter as a puppy[/one_half]

[one_half_last]The same area (and Dexter) todayThe same area 4 years later[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Another “before” with baby Dex[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Today Lilies & Azaleas grow hereToday Lilies grow here[/one_half_last]

My “brag book”  – the way it looks today

(click to enlarge)
[one_half]The way it looks todayThe way it looks today[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Can you see the Mountain?Can you see the Mountain?[/one_half_last]

[one_third]Azaleas and LiliesAzaleas and Lilies[/one_third]

[one_third]Looking to the mountainLooking to the mountain[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Looking from the other viewAnd from the other side[/one_third_last]

The last photograph shows the bed from the other side (with the mountain behind me). There is of course still work to be done in the front of the bed and once the Tulips have died down in the bed opposite the Lilies & Azaleas I will be planting perennials in there (not doing the Tulips again next year).

I should probably have waited to show this when all the Lilies are blooming and when the Prunus is covered in blossoms … but I’ll just have to show you how it looks then again … it will be another whole new look. I can’t wait!

Happy Gardening

By Christine

Dominated by large trees on a medium sized property, my garden is very shaded. With no “full sun” areas I have to plant shade and partial shade loving plants. I love shrubs and flowers including camellias and azaleas but Roses and Irises are my favourite and getting these to thrive is a challenge …

39 replies on “All about Change – the Azalea bed, then and now”

Discovered your blog today, also an azalea lover with too many shady spots in my Stellenbosch garden. I just love the before and after images of Dexter. This is exactly the position I am in now with a 9 week old puppy dominating my back garden and determining my choice of plants. For the time being I will have two gardens, a front garden and the walled off back garden belonging to Dante, the Giant Schauzer, and no room for a veggie garden!

Hi Hugo – You live in my favourite part of the world – Stellenbosch! Beautiful, beautiful part of the country, how I envy you.

I think the joy our dogs bring us is worth the garden woes … before long your pup will be tired of all the digging and destroying (or at least more controllable – I still fight with Dexter about trampling on plants 🙂

You have maintained your shade, but just allowed a little more light and a LOT more beauty! 🙂 Love the before and after photos – including those of Dexter! Thanks also for your recent visit.

Christine, this post has me itching to break out a chainsaw! 😉 Truly a remarkable transformation. Our first garden had a similar dark corner, and I never did open up the tree canopy, partly because the neighbor behind us had a second floor balcony. I really didn’t need to see him lurking up there, looming with beer in hand, staring into my kitchen. I like my privacy too. Your corner though, with that fabulous, beautiful wall, and open sky, with all that gorgeous sunshine, just stunning!

Hi Clare, thanks for the visit and the vote of approval! It really means a lot.

I agree about not wanting to see neighbours if they are able to see into your property – most especially the lurking, beer-swilling kind 🙂

Christine – Loved this post ! … about how you let the sunshine in.
I like to view my garden while sitting on the back door-step. No-one can see me there, day-dreaming away & talking to the plants.

hehe, Bag, I caught myself talking to some plants the other day and was reminded of it when I read your comment. They’ve never flowered for me and I asked them very nicely …

Hi, yes it definitely is a wonderful make-over, and your pet is seemingly happy there viewing the flowers. In a little while there will be butterflies, and we will wait for all your flowers to bloom. When sunlight and wind can enter a nook favorably, there is energy flow and there will be growth and developments.

Hi Andrea – Thanks so much for the vote of confidence! I look for new blooms daily and can’t wait to show the area when the Cherry Blossom blooms 🙂

wow, it’s amazing how much that path has opened up. You could barely walk through before. Privacy is great but fighting your way through the jungle each day could be a bit laborious I think 😉

hi Marguerite – you are so right! my daughter and I were looking at the old photo the other day and compared to the new look, and we both can’t believe we used to like it that way! Seems quite bizarre now we see how much nicer it is with blue sky and a mountain view, never mind the pretty flowers etc. 🙂

What a transformation! I love before and after photos. I know a lot of people who are afraid to prune shrubs and trees and who will let trees grow, no matter what. Sometimes change takes a little courage, but the results are woth it.

By the way, Dex is very handsome!

I am a very private person as well, and we have found a way to ‘wall’ off our backyard so we can have that privacy. However, I really do like your transformation. It opens the entire area up. You have done a great job. I am glad you showed us how it looks now, but I do look forward to seeing it with all the blooms.

Hi Michelle – Thank you! You have such a beautiful garden so I really appreciate the vote of approval. I promise I’ll show it when everything is blooming … I think it will be about another three weeks!

I am a private person too so I know what you mean. I have to admit I love the open look of that side bed much more now. It looks beautiful.

I like it a lot! I mean, you have a walled garden, so you’re not likely to loose your privacy, but those trees cut back to their trunks look very elegant and light. And the mountain is spectacular in a rather subtle way, sort of hovering in the far distance.

Thank you! And you are so right, I never really thought of it that way – you see we all have huge walls around our properties here in South Africa. (I envy you your lovely open vistas). But this is a lovely area now (I think) and in time I might grow some creepers up the walls … I’ll see.

Oh my friend! I love this post! It shows how we still can improve things that we see as beautiful already! Your “azalea bed” has totally transformed – like a caterpillar turning to a butterfly!! How gorgeous it all looks – it shows a sense of peace and harmony that has set in. I love the Dexter before and after … 🙂 I LOVE SPRING!!!

Hallo Christine
Schön ist es geworden,mag auch nie in die Gartennatur eingreifen.aber ab und an ist ein Segen…sicher auch für Dexter,ein Platz an der Sonne ist immer gut

LG vom katerchen

Lovely change to the bed, but I have to admit being slightly distracted by baby Dex. Just how cute is that. And what a huge change in Dex. Handsome fellow now.

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