Yesterday I finally got around to doing something that I have been avoiding for nearly a month. It's not just because I'm lazy, although I certainly can be, but more because it was just something that I knew would be heart breaking to do.
After Hurricane Irma's visit last year, we returned home to piles of tree debris. In fact, there was so much of it that it had to be cleared away before anything else was could be done. We couldn't really see much of the house to check it out until all that foliage rubbish was gone. Once we had finally completed step one, we checked the house out thoroughly and were both surprised and pleased that the house was intact and dry. The no so good surprise came more in the form of what happened to our hibiscus.
Up until Irma blew through, even the roughest and toughest of tropical storms didn't seem to do more than blow a few leaves off the Hibiscus which always grew back immediately. The shrub (or tree, I'm not certain into which category it falls to tell the truth) stood tall and strong at the right corner of the house at the end of hedge like an exclamation point. Because it lives inside the front courtyard, I suspect that the courtyard walls acted as protection from the worst of any weather and assumed that this would always be the case. I could not have been more wrong.
My tall beautiful Hibiscus was now, post hurricane, listing strongly to starboard. The roots were still in the ground but stretched almost but not quite to the breaking point. Oh dear! I found a bit of string and wrapped it around the strongest branches of the Hibiscus and then to the core of the hedge in an effort to stand it upright once again. It worked. Briefly. The next day, apparently the string had stretched and it was once again, nearly laying on the ground. I re-tied it, tighter, and then propped up the base with goodish sized rocks. After a few days the string had once again stretched and the rocks had slide away and the Hibiscus remained standing at roughly a 45 degree angle.
I kept retying and repropping and babied it with natural fertilizers and encouraging speeches. I watered it by hand when the weather was dry and cleared away debris after any storm. I carefully pruned and in general coddled it hoping for the best but nothing changed.
Fortuitously, a few months ago when our lawn guys were here working, their boss was here as well. His name is Sam and he is a very nice man. We chatted about this'n'that and eventually I turned the conversation to my sad little Hibiscus. I asked him if there was anything that could be done. He strongly recommended cutting it back hard, so that only the vertical branches still stood. He suggested that I do this in March. Apparently March is the month for pruning and cutting here. I nodded and thanked him and then realized something, "But March is when the trees and plants begin blooming again. That means there will be buds and blooms all over the Hibiscus! It will kill them!" I protested in earnest. Sam shrugged in response. "It's for the good of the Hibiscus" he said gently but firmly.
So there it was three days before I was going to run out of March. No point in putting it off any longer. I took a deep breath and began to rummage through the utility room looking for implements of destruction (Thank you Arlo Guthrie) It was at this point that I realized that we no longer owned many gardening tools. I must have sold them at the yard sale in Colorado before we moved. Dang. Ok, necessity being what it is, I found alternatives. A small hand saw will work. I carefully sawed away all branches that were not vertical, talking soothingly and encouragingly all the while. "It's for your own good" I said, "You will come back stronger and more beautiful" I told her. But I was still very sad and I felt like a vandal, a cad, a murderer! Eventually though, it was done.
With a heavy heart, I hauled all the branches around to the cut foliage repository on the side of the house and starred balefully at the pile. Then, struck with inspiration, I ran back to the utility room and found a pair of garage grade scissors. I cut all of the buds off the branches. I trimmed them carefully and brought them inside where I rinsed them gently in cool water and trimmed them a second time. I decided to put them in one of my favourite, and least used, vases. At one time it belonged to my Nana. Normally it lives in the display cabinet in the living room with other "pretty things" but as of yesterday, it is holding Hibiscus buds. I'm told that this vase is hobnailed milkglass. If that's true, it's nice to know, but as far as I'm concerned, it's just Nana's pretty vase.
Even as I arranged the buds, I fully expected to walk into the room this morning to find it all wilted, browning and dead. I've tried bringing in blossoming branches of Hydrangea and Lilac in years past with very poor results. I was prepared for the same thing to happen this time. But, I comforted myself, at least I would have known that I tried.
I walked into the room this morning to find this. I think I am forgiven.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.