Last evening I had a visit from Lee May of Lee May's Gardening Life and his wife Lyn. They were delightful guests. And into the bargain, I got two thorny issues solved for me, which had been bothering me for a while.
The first -- how to prune a young American holly (Ilex opaca) and whether or not to prune up a pretty Stewartia (S. pseudocamellia) to show off its bark. No big deal, right? Just get the pruners out.
But I had dithered over what to do all season. The timid pruner is afraid that removed branches can't be stuck back on. The uncertain gardener is convinced that pruning an expensive tree (the holly) is like cutting cash off the tree. Each branch on that thing cost a fortune. Each branch!
Here is how my problem was solved. I didn't even have to do the work.
|This is how to entertain guests in your garden.|
|The bark will become mottled and interesting as this Stewartia |
ages, and now, limbed up, I can see it.
|Originally I wanted an Ilex opaca branched all the way|
to the ground, but the specimen I got early last spring was missing
limbs below. It looked awkward.
|Instead of low branches, the curvy trunk of this Ilex opaca |
is now its best feature, thanks to Lee's work with the saw.
The second problem -- what to plant in shade in a dampish spot in the back garden. The camassias in that area die back as all spring bulbs do, and leave a mess of foliage, which I need to hide.
Then the trees above leaf out and create a lot of shade. The area needs a transition from low groundcovers to the taller shrubs behind, something about two feet tall in between.
I am bored to death with hostas and heucheras, and needed something different. Once again I dithered all season over what to try there. Lee showed up with the perfect solution, a gift of a hardy begonia (Begonia grandis) from his garden.
I knew nothing about begonias and thought they were only houseplants. But this lovely summer bloomer is hardy, it wakes up late in the spring, so the camassias can do their thing first, and it will be the right size -- a mound about two feet tall -- to fill the mid level between the low plants and the shrubs. They thrive in shade, they like it damp, and they may naturalize in the space I have. Perfect.
And it is simply a beautiful plant.
|Look at those rich red-backed leaves.|
So here is my advice to you when you are struggling with what to do in your garden:
Invite a fellow gardener over who grows interesting and unusual plants.
Get out the pruning saw.
Have the wine glasses ready.