I recently  was presented with a nice shrub. A potted hibiscus of a new, hardy variety with real nice, purple foliage.

As my tiny garden is full already, something else had to go. That was not so hard to decide. Actually, at the moment I received the gift, I instantly knew, what plant to swap for it. One of the two last remaining thorn trees still left from the wilderness my garden used to be when I first moved in with my sweetheart.

These two specimen have survived my grubbing up so far, as they are real trees, so the thorns grow overhead in one case, or, in the other case, were manageable, cut into an oval ball sitting on a smooth, thorn-free trunk approximately my own height. However, my little apple tree is not so little any more and it grew one branch into the thorny ball this year. Thus, the fate of the trimmed thornball was already sealed. However, two problems arose with my plan to take it out. First there is almost no getting to it, as I have planted flowers all around it in previous years, that I would hate to destroy in the process. Second, I doubted I’d be able to get it out at all without help. So I postponed my initial plan to coming winter, where the flowers would sleep and I could maybe fell that thing without damaging too much.

But that hibiscus pot sat in full view on my terrace and yesterday it motivated me into action. Very early in the morning I just started out without much planning, squatting between blooming flowers digging up earth around the trunk, throwing it onto a pile forming on the path. Ten centimeters underground the first, fine roots appeared, not presenting a problem at all. I just cut them with my secateurs, trying not to damage too much ground around the tree.

But then. The trunk doubled in width further underground and it seemed to go straight down forever. As the trench around it got too deep to reach down, I realised, I would have to dig the hole much wider and would propably never be able to get this wooden chunk out of the ground at all. So I had to relocate the surrounding flowers after all, just to be able to get down far enough to reach the first substantial roots. This tree has obviously been planted some twenty years ago, when the housing area was constructed shortly after the Berlin wall came down. Plenty of time to sturdily root itself into the stonehard ground.

After both my spade and my big pair of pruning shears were not enough to detach the roots any longer, I thought I had to pack it in. That tree still sat strong and upright in its hole and was barely bending after three hours of backbreaking work. I was close to tears.

Untill I remembered one last resolve. Circumstance’s husband once gave me a big ax a long time ago, when my then husband and I moved into our own house that was heated with wood. So there was lots of chopping to be done. I knew, I still had this ax somewhere stored in the cellar. I even had it in my hands recently, when we cleared out the cellar. I just could not remember, where exactly I have put it. All thumbs up for me for labelling all boxes in this process. Thus, it didn’t take too long to find the ax.

After attacking the roots with the ax for what seemed forever, the tree finally gave in. With most of the major roots hacked off, I could now bend it to the ground in different directions to find the last remaining strongholds. In the process, my apple tree got a bit damaged, losing a branch, but this could not be avoided. I cut the branch beforehand, trying to prevent it from being ripped off.  As soon as I could make out the direction, the last, lowest root of the tree grew into, I had aim for the final hack attack and out it came in one piece.

The rest was easy: filling up the hole with a mixture of the ground I previously dug out and good soil, planting the hibiscus, putting the flowers around it back into the ground, clearing up the mess and explaining to the sweetheart, that the new shrub would fill up the gap now showing in no time at all. The latter taking most energy.

When exactly my back will recover, is a different story.