taking out that shrub

In his Sherlock Holmes fiction Sir Arthur Conan Doyle liked to put in Holmes’ mouth talk about observing rather than merely seeing. It is a truism, but it is also true, that we often don’t observe those things we see every day.

When we bought our house in 1997 the builder put in the front yard. We made our own additions, such as putting in pavers by the driveway and adding rose bushes. We had to add rose bushes. My maternal grandfather was in the nursery business. He was a partner in a wholesale nursery company and sales manager at the storied Howard Rose Company for close to half a century.

But back to our yard. The builder put in two large shrubs. In recent years they both stood about four feet high, four feet wide, and four feet deep. The other day I stood out front talking to our neighbor, who had just returned our hedge clippers, about the drought and conserving water. I glanced over at our two shrubs. The one farthest front was dead. Brown. Dry. Brittle. Lifeless. I had no idea how long it had been that way, but it was. Which is strange, because in spite of the cutback in watering the rose bushes were doing fine, as was the shrub further back. If anything the shrub further front should have been getting more, not less, water than the one behind it.

Terry had left for business travel on Saturday morning and it wasn’t too hot, so I decided it was time to tackle the removal of the dead shrub. I headed to front yard carrying both the long and short handled clippers. I set to work. It was a tedious job because the branches and leaves were dry and entangled. In the end I got perhaps two-thirds of the shrub whacked away. By that time the yard waste toter was full so I had to stop. The good thing is that I got rid of enough of it so it’s not nearly as obvious from the street as it had been. I raked up some leaves for good measure. I then took a shower and got changed. I was quite sore but felt a sense of accomplishment when Terry called from New Jersey.

Still, I would like to know what killed the thing in the first place.

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