I love Mahonias… I didn’t set out to kill one today, but I think that’s what I’ve done. Andrew and I have been tackling our new Glasgow garden during this spell of fantastic (uncharacteristic?) sunny weather and today I decided that three Mahonias next to each other in one short stretch of border was at least one too many. My plan was to dig up the central one and replant it in another part of the garden… I hadn’t reckoned on how established it was there, nor how tenacious Mahonias can be. After half an hour of digging around it with the spade and fork (to little effect), I began a sort of “rowing” action gripping two of the branches and rocking…(did I mention that Mahonias are prickly?) This produced some movement around the base of the plant so I continued, alternating the rocking with digging for about another half hour. Eventually I reached a point where, by standing on the lower trunk and pushing my back against the wall (did I mention that this Mahonia was planted very close to a wall?) I could get the plant to lie down – but still it clung on. More gymnastics in a limited space (did I mention that this Mahonia was very close to another Mahonia and a huge, rampant honeysuckle?) and the robust old thing would lie down in every direction – but still it clung on. Scraping around the trunk with spade, trowel and fork I realised that some of the roots were still very, very solid (as well as being bright yellow!) Finally, as dusk began to fall, I was reduced to fetching a saw from the shed and sawing through four of these arteries, below soil level. About two hours after the contest began I was able to hold the shrub aloft in triumph… just (my aching back, legs and hands could barely support me by this time). But I felt little victory, just rather sad that this stately shrub was now extremely unlikely to flourish ever again. As I ran a hot bath I reflected on what Paul says in Ephesians about being “rooted and grounded in love” – I have a better understanding of rootedness now.
Murdering a Mahonia