Monday, February 13, 2006

The Indiscriminate Gardener

Our friend Laura is a city girl, with a city yard, but it is filled to bursting with plants that almost shine with care, and she knows each and every one of her plants, and they are all there because she chose them and likes them. Her plants respond to this attention, and fairly quiver with vitality. There are people (well, quite a few folks actually) who think that I, on the other hand, just buy one of everything for my garden, and let the plants fight it out. Once, at a party Laura asked me if there was any plant that I didn't like (afterwards I started wondering if she was asking a question, or more making a statement; did she say "Is there any plant YOU don't like?" or did she say "Is there ANY plant you don't like!" Be that as it may, I do recall that I almost came up blank, finally offering that I don't care for double flowered Rose of Sharons, as their flowers, when they are over the hill, look like wet toilet paper hanging on the bush, especially if it rains. I of course had to then admit that I was crazy about single flowered Rose of Sharons, and even semi-doubles like Lilac Chiffon shown above, and that I consider these to be the single most under-utilized flowering shrubs in the midwest. I am especially enamored of their season of bloom, in late summer, when the other flowering shrubs are snoozing in the heat. Since that party, I've thought some more and have come up with one more plant I won't grow: forsythias. I must admit that my dislike stems not from any problem with the plant itself, but chiefly from the fact that in cold winters most of them lose their flower buds above the snow line here, so they look like a drab dowager with a bright yellow petticoat. I'm also not fond of the way everybody around here trims them into an ugly bun shape. At any rate, I've now doubled the number of plants I don't like... call me picky!

I have never understood pruning forsythia at all. It's such a lovely cascade shape when left alone, it just needs room.

And I agree that they don't seem to fare well in our no- snow- ever- stays- long winters...
Yah, I've always wondered WHERE these folks get the idea to prune their forsythias into a "bun" shape. Uglee!
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