But I have a dilemma. I'm waffling on putting in a plant because it will require annual pruning to keep it controlled. I'm conflicted because it might require too much care. It might not be easy at all.
Cotinus 'Grace' is a plant I want in my garden. I really, really want this shrub for its beautiful foliage.
I don't have space for that, and I don't like the unkempt look of the huge plumes all over it. But I love the purple translucent foliage, and it is easily kept to a small, more vertical shrub size by completely coppicing it each winter. Nancy Ondra shows us how in a wonderfully detailed post on cut-back shrubs. Her pictures of the cut-back Cotinus 'Grace' are beautiful, and she grows it mixed with other plants in a complex border.
|flower plumes from Learn2Grow.com|
|variable translucent foliage from bbc.co.uk's plantfinder|
If you cut it right to the ground it regrows each season with stunning variable, purple tinged, clean looking leaves, and the shrub stays smallish. The flowers are sacrificed when it is cut back (they grow on last year's wood), but I don't want the flowers. The pruning, if done each year, is simple and can be done by me with loppers and a hand pruner.
|Unpruned smokebush in bloom (UConn's plant database).|
It would be too big and rangy under my paperbark maple if
left unpruned. What to do?
I think about my garden without me all the time. I am not young. When I go, or get too frail, or just stop gardening, the place has to be able to survive untended.
Trees and shrubs will keep growing where they are and, free from my fussy interventions, will reach whatever size they want to be.
And that's a problem for the future. A small, annually pruned smokebush gracefully growing among other plants under my paperbark maple will be lovely. A 20 foot billowy unpruned monster with smoky fuzz all over it in that spot will be alarming.
- Do I plant one in that perfect spot by the paperbark maple, integrated in the border, and prune it each year and enjoy it until my demise?
- Or should I find some spot where it can grow naturally if someone after me does not prune it each year? (I don't have room and don't want the look of a freestanding shrub stranded out in the lawn.)
- Or should I not put one in at all, knowing I'm really planting the wrong plant in the wrong spot?