I also had to face that oldest tree in my garden was dying and had to be cut down. I had to dig up a densely planted part of the yard so that the bucket truck could reach the giant maple. The tree's leaves covered the whole of the back yard and created a protected, shady environment. (The photo above is what it looked like last year.) Now the challenge will be to redesign the exposed space and work with the sun.
I've been pruning what's left to rebalance the strange new openness. Working with the paths and larger bushes, has been a challenge. Thirty years ago the garden started as a collection of plants I couldn't resist. Then I moved to bushes. I've been editing and moving things around, but it had gotten pretty wild. People politely called it a "cottage-garden." I've been simplifying, adding structure and creating vistas. Change is hard for me, but the back garden is going to look better than it did before!
Then, a week ago I went to a remarkable Garden Tweet-Up at the home of Margaret Roach. Gardeners and friends of gardeners came from CT, NY, NJ, NY, NH, MA, PA, TX to meet and talk together. I'd been tweeting and reading blogs by half of the 20 people I met there. Although I'm not a garden designer, or garden writer (most of the people were) I am a serious gardener. We all shared an interest in plants, color combinations and in creating spaces using them. Most of the group also shared an interest in photography and social media. It was fun for all to spend time, and get to visit with real people.