When we moved into the house, we inherited three beautiful acers in the back garden. They're very pretty, especially in autumn, when the leaves turn various gorgeous shades of rust, amber and ochre.
Unfortunately, they're planted practically in the middle of the garden. And because the garden is south-facing, it means they cast a lot of shade. And by a lot of shade, I mean A LOT OF SHADE. The grassed area in front of them is permanently boggy because no light gets to it (we also have two enormous sycamores growing in our neighbour's garden on the left, which block all the early morning light, and several even bigger sycamores on the other side, which helpfully block the evening light).
So after living with the acers for over a year (and two very shady summers) we decided to cut down the one on the left hand side.
First of all, Andre sawed off the smaller branches. Then he got busy with the chain saw, and removed the main trunk. And no, I don't recommend operating this kind of power tool wearing shorts and trainers.
A couple of swimsuit-clad daughters supervised proceedings from the executive paddling pool.
I chopped up the branches as they came off the tree, and placed them to dry slowly underneath a nearby camellia, destined for a variety of ends including firewood, coffee table legs, and those clever twig hook thingies that go on the back of doors.
The sun had moved by the time I took the photo below, so you'll have to take my word for it that removing the acer on the left (and trimming several of the lower-hanging branches of the remaining two trees) has made a massive difference to the amount of light that now gets into the garden.
Of course the main problem now is that although we have more light in the garden, removing the acer has revealed the unattractive wilderness at the end of the garden that was hitherto concealed from view. The remaining trees look kind of odd, planted randomly as they are in the middle of the lawn. And our neighbour's six year old kid popped his head over the fence and told us we now need to cut down the tall shrub to the left because "it looks weird". He's right. It does look weird. Don't worry lad, we'll get it sorted for you.
I tell myself that we're at the same stage with the garden as the one we reach during a room renovation when we've ripped all the old wallpaper off to reveal the ugly, disintegrating plaster below. And as with interior renovation, where you then need to re-plaster, repair the woodwork, sand and oil the floors, paint everything, and gradually fill the room with furniture and fabrics - well, it's clear the garden has a long, long way to go before it starts looking presentable.
But I have a plan! I've drawn it all out on paper and everything, old school style. Details to follow shortly...