I complain about my excessive number of spruce trees a lot, but I haven't complained about the accompanying red shale mulch recently. Since moving into my fixer-upper of a house and yard almost 8 years ago, I have dug and removed countless wheelbarrows of the stuff. Someone, about 40 years ago or so, thought it was a great idea to plant a gazillion spruce trees and cover half the yard with a thick mulch of red shale. They did a very good job of it, too. No scrimping on the red shale mulch happened on this property. No sirree.
So, after shoveling and moving around another 20 wheelbarrow loads of shale mixed with spruce needles yesterday, I am feeling the urge to vent again.
Above: here's the spot, viewed from my front steps, where I dug out the shale yesterday. My husband took the kids out for a few hours, and I probably should have been cleaning bathrooms or putting the Christmas decorations away, but it was nice outside! So I got out the shovel and wheelbarrow, of course.
I needed to move at least a little of this mulch out of the way because Adair Tree Care Ltd. is coming in a few weeks to take down the two trees shown (Hurrray!!!!) and I needed to move enough that they could use their stump grinder - the shale went right up to the base of the trees. It is hard to see in the photo above because there is little colour contrast between the soil, pink mulch, and surrounding bark mulch, but if you look closely you can just make out the dusty, pink edges of the landscaping fabric.
Above: As you can see, the area beneath these trees is a barren wasteland even during the growing season. This spring I'll be busy replacing those trees with shrubs, ornamental grasses, and perennials... after I finish removing the rest of the red shale, of course (I've only done about half so far.)
"How is it possible," you might ask, "that you could get out and dig in the middle of January in Calgary? I know it's chinooking right now, but isn't the ground still frozen?"
"It is possible," I would answer, "because no moisture ever falls beneath those d*^&m trees. The ground isn't frozen there because there is nothing in the ground to actually freeze! Nothing but freakin' dust, spruce needles, and red shale mulch. Gawd am I glad to be finally getting rid of those trees."
"And what did you do," you might wonder, "with the mulch you dug up?"
"For lack of any other place," I would answer, "I spread it around underneath all my other spruce trees!"