Unfinished projects, part one

>> Saturday, July 28, 2007

Here’s an area that really needs work. I choose this area first because this is going to be the most labor intensive to get under control.

This picture, dated September 2006, was taken two years after we moved in. I did not have a clear plan for the space, other than knowing I did not want this tree and all of its suckers.

When we first moved in this plum tree was a ‘huge’ shrub and I had no idea what it was. I asked the neighbors but they didn't know either. The suckers had grown so tall and thick that the trunk wasn’t visible. For size reference, the fence posts are set ten feet apart and this thing covered the fence from one post to the other.

Within a month of moving in I cut everything down except the main tree, the trunks you see here. After clearing it back a bit I began finding tell-tale ‘fruit’ on the ground that looked like plums. They were a 'dusty' purple and not very well developed (see next photo). I attributed the smallish size of the fruit to the tree not being well-cared for. Perhaps this variety just produces fruit smaller than the standard plum.

I began tossing lawn clippings on the area thinking the decomposition of it would help loosen up the heavy clay soil.

Here is what it looked like in April of this year, before the suckers and bindweed have come up.

I’m still putting grass clippings on it, along with composted steer manure and digging it in. I had come up with a plan to replace the tree with a couple of tall and wide Viburnum. I ordered the Viburnum, one 'Aurora' (white) and a 'Red Wing' thinking they would be tall enough and wide enough to cover this section of fence by next Spring. At that time I would cut down the plum tree and all of its suckers.

Viburnum 'Aurora' before...

and after...

and what it would have looked like if it had survived my ineptitude.

Viburnum 'Red Wing' before...

and after...

and what it would have looked like. Ah well, they would have been beautiful.

I think the lesson here is that just because they are considered 'hardy' shrubs for my area, doesn't mean they don't need to be protected from the hot sun. I did expose them to the sun gradually, following the typical transplanting routine, i.e., a few hours of sun the first day and increasing sun exposure each day for a week before putting them into their permanent place. And I did water them a lot, although on reflection, maybe not often enough.

Another lesson is to pay a little extra to buy larger shrubs that would probably have had a better chance of getting established.

I will buy two more viburnum, the same ones again, and this time they will make it and my plan will have to be adjusted. Such is a gardeners lot.

In the mean time, there are two Lilac's maturing here until they get big enough to move somewhere a little more permanent.

And two squash 'Hybrid Gentry' crook-necked.

And one more plant, Spirea 'Little Princess'.

The open space in the above photo is as of today. I still need to figure out what will look good in front of two large Viburnum. This is the most difficult yet most fun part of gardening, is trying to decide what to plant.

Good garden design says I need to repeat what I already have planted, but there is so much more out there to plant that I just can't bring myself to be limited by what I already have. And I have to consider bloom times so I can have color during every season.

Maybe some Chrysanthemums, Geraniums, Bee Balm, Lilac....


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