There are many ways to edit, including moving plants (mine ought to be on wheels), removing them, or pruning them. All ways are in play in my garden.
This editing is much like my writing and rewriting stories as a newspaper man. Whether gardening or writing, the goal is to improve, to illuminate, to get to the essence.
Some of the changes I've made lately were long-planned, and some just came over me as I walked through spaces, looking critically.
Two small trees in the back garden had stayed too long and have been on thin ice for a couple of years. A weeping cherry, kept at about six feet tall, was wanting to be too wide for the space, thus shrinking the view of other plants and four red poles that "support" a tree in Big Momma's Garden.
Timmm-berrr! Here it lies, just before heading off to the wattle.
Nearby, next to the bamboo fountain, another weeper, a small willow, got edited out of the garden. Then, a non-performing sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) got evicted for under-performance; its blooms were pitifully sparse. And, so it went. Lily of the valley. Ajuga. Bloodroot. All partially dug out.
The most severe pruning was of a weeping juniper that had repeatedly grown up past the eaves, and spread wider and wider, hogging the corner of the house.
While I love its look, this tree grew larger and faster than I thought it would, needing repeated haircuts to keep it the size I want. Fortunately, it has a free-growing twin that weeps over a bridge in another, more open, area of the front garden. So, knowing I had a backup, I was able to saw away, winding up with a fresh tree that now is integrated into this part of the garden.
After 10 years of happy growth, a number of trees and shrubs cannot be saved by pruning; they have to be taken out, often because their trunks become too large for the relatively low heights I want for the garden's scale. Call this the ultimate pruning.
Instead of grinding or digging out the stumps, I dress them up by placing an interesting stone atop the slowly decaying stumps. The example below is the stump of a yew that, after eight years, no longer fit its space in the middle of a patch of aster, chrysanthemum and woolly thyme. The stone not only feels ornamental to me, but it also tells walkers to mind the stump.
It'll be a while before the reshaped juniper has to go the way of the yew. Knowing when to be done is part of editing, so I'm setting aside my cutting tools for now. As a legendary editor in the LA Times Washington bureau used to tell us writers in a voice like gravel: "When the story is done, stop writing."