Sunday, February 17, 2013

Space and bushes: A dilemma

As my blog's tagline says, I think I'm gardening on a suburban-sized lot when in reality, I have .03 of an acre here in the city. As a result of my oversized dreams, I've purchased or acquired a number of bushes in the past several years - bushes that are starting to outgrow their current location and should either be moved or discarded. I've been pondering this dilemma for a good year and really have no idea what to do with many of them. As a visual, I call my property by three names: front yard, side yard, and back yard. Totally original, I know. I'm thinking of copyrighting them.

In my front yard
Lilac: My mom gave me the lilac so I don't its particular name. It is currently part of a superfecta of bushes in the front forming a really great privacy screen from our busy street. Unfortunately, it's being overshadowed by our half-dead dogwood. It definitely needs to be moved, but to where, I don't know.

Viburnum plicatum 'Summer Snowflake': I purchased this from my favorite nursery and didn't believe it really was going to get big for some reason.  Obviously a temporary moment of insanity, as it's about six feet tall now. It's not very wide yet, perhaps because it doesn't have a lot of room. It is smack dab next to the lilac in front, like right up on it. I'm surprised they haven't had babies yet. I think I'm hoping it will replace the half-dead dogwood when J and I finally come to our senses/are so embarrassed that we have the tree cut down.

Viburnum "Summer Snowflake". Image from
Butterfly bush: I got this from a former coworker when I was first starting the garden. It provides some nice privacy from my neighbors's driveway and I love to see the butterflies on it in the summer. However, it is way too big for any space in my garden and I'm going to discard it this spring. 

Hydrangea: I didn't write down the name of this plant, but it's a lace-cap hydrangea that starts off blue and then turns pinky-red when it gets hot/is at the end of the season. It is part of the superfecta that provides privacy in front, but it has very much outgrown its place and is drowning out some of my perennials. I'm thinking of moving it to the back yard by my patio (if I even start a patio flower bed) or close to the porch, where it might block out part of the rain gutter. I like both options equally.

Lace-cap hydrangea with Ostrich Plume astilbe
Azalea: The azalea was here when we bought the house and does well in its spot in front of the porch. I have no intention of moving it. I'm not sure if its leaves would look good, once its done blooming, with those of the hydrangea if I moved the hydrangea to the same bed. 

Azalea in front of the porch

Ilex crenata (Japanese holly): I didn't write down the exact cultivar (why did I think the tag on it would last through the wind and snow of winter?), but I bought this last year to go in a weird spot in the front yard, next to the porch steps. I needed something that would get tall but not too wide, as it's next to a walkway. I found this at my local nursery and so far, it fits the bill perfectly. 

In my side yard
Forsythia: This bush was here when we bought the house. It's always the first to bloom in my garden, and it provides privacy from the front yard to the back yard. Unfortunately, it is way too big. I'm constantly pruning it so that it doesn't block the side walkway or my neighbor's driveway. Though I don't want to force anything in my garden that doesn't fit or doesn't belong, I really want to keep this even though it's too big, and even if that means digging out half of it every five years or so to try to control its size. 

Climbing rose: This was also here when we moved in. It's super low maintenance and is really lovely. Unfortunately, it helped bring down the arbor on which it was climbing a couple of years ago (rotting wood was also a culprit), and I've yet to replace the structure. This is staying where it is, because once I get another arbor, it's a really nice segue into the side yard. 

Climbing rose
Hypericum frondosum cv. 'Sunburst' (Golden St. Johnswort): I bought this with my very first plant purchase, not knowing anything about it. The bees adore it in the summer and its flowers are really interesting. This bush has unfortunately been a casualty of my yard getting cut in half two years ago and has not had a permanent home since then. It was biding its time where the Japanese holly now lives, but I've since moved it to the hill on the side yard. One of its trunks died this summer, and I'm still not sure where to put it. I do like it, but may need to find it a home with someone else.  

Golden St. Johnswort. Image from

Dwarf lilac: This is from my mother, so I don't know much about it beyond that it is very wide but not tall. I moved this from the side of the house to the front of our new back yard seating area, to give the seating area some privacy from the neighbor's driveway and the street beyond. I'm not sure it really liked the move, though, and I'm not sure if it's going to come back this year. I do hope it does, as I like it a lot and I'm happy with the space it occupies.

Dwarf lilac

In my back yard
Kerria japonica (aka, the Pom Pom Bush): My mother had this at our house growing up, and we used to call it the Pom Pom Bush because of its flowers.  She brought me some from her new home far, far away. I have it in a corner where the fence turns. I don't love it there, but my goal was to use it as part of the transition from side yard to back yard, to let visitors know there was about to be a transition in what they saw. I'm undecided about the location but do want to keep it.

Pom Pom Bush in winter

Cornus sericea 'Farrow' Arctic Fire (Red Twig Dogwood): I bought this two years ago to anchor the corner where my fence meet's my neighbor's. I also wanted it to create some privacy so that I wouldn't see the entirety of the home of our new neighbors behind us. It's doing a good job on all accounts and doubled in size between its first and second years. I just need to move a lot of perennials out of its way this spring, as I hadn't realized how big it would get. 

I have some tough decisions to make once it gets warmer. Which bush stays, and which goes, and which gets moved?  No matter what happens, I am excited to make some long-needed changes to my garden. 

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