A couple of months ago I published my spring garden plant shuffling to-do "list". To recap let's just say that every year I move a *few* plants. The list is an attempt to prioritize the annual migration and get ahead of the curve. Below is the list as it looked when I first created it in January, a page as fresh and clean as the ideas it contained.
Below is the list as it stands today, scribbled on and slightly tattered by progress. I added a few more plants and a category for new plant acquisitions to reflect an order I placed with Plant Delights last week. Stars prioritize shrubs and trees which I want to concentrate on first while they're still dormant.
Although I had hoped to be further along by now, mother nature has had other plans. Late spring snow has lingered longer than usual due to weeks of below average temperatures. Even when the temperatures do crawl into the 40s, they are often accompanied by cold brisk winds. Hope is on the horizon for the upcoming weekend though and I have Friday off.
Plant removals are proceeding as planned. Sometimes it takes a while but once I make the decision to bid a plant farewell, I don't mess around. Truth be told I am waffling a little on the Corylus though. So far I've pruned out the back third and I keep trying to convince myself that I can make it work. But a plant of that caliber deserves a site where it can strut it's stuff and the current spot is not that place so I really just need to bit the bullet.
Last weekend I removed Rosa 'Carefree Sunshine' from the middle of this very visible garden along side the patio. Next to go is Hydrangea serrata 'Blue Billow' . Based on the research I've done, this plant prefers more shade than sun and although it does not get full sun in this garden it clearly gets too much. Either that or it's just a dud. Time will tell. Pearls of wisdom from anyone growing it successfully would be greatly appreciated.
Believe it or not but I have no definite idea about what to plant in this now available real estate. I'm starting to see visions of a Ensete maurelii or Colocasia 'Diamond Head' as a focal point centered in a large decorative container. Stay tuned...
For comparative purposes, here's a a picture of this garden taken last July. Like most of my patio plantings, choices lean heavily towards annuals, tropicals and tender perennials.
At the opposite end, I grow a variety of shade perennials. The tree is a beautiful specimen Acer palmatum 'Katsura', one of my favorite plants in the garden. During a freak snow storm in October 2011, it suffered fairly extensive damage including multiple split trunks. Except to prune out snapped branches, I left it alone and so far it's doing quite well.
Last spring I shuffled some of the plants in this garden around which stunted them slightly. By late June everything was starting to fill in nicely and none of the impatiens had succumbed to blight yet. This season I expect the perennials will fill in the space almost completely. Now if I can just leave well enough alone, maybe I won't miss the impatiens.
A few plants from the list, like late additions Hibiscus syriacus 'Sugar Tip' and Cornus sericea 'Silver and Gold', are listed not because I'm unhappy with them in their current spots but because I think they would show off better under different conditions. If I don't find what I think will be the perfect home elsewhere in the garden, they will stay put-at least for this year.
Fortunately the majority of my perennials have yet to show signs of life. A cold spring is the weekend gardener's friend. Next week I'm taking a chance and having the gutters on my house replaced. Don't tell anyone I said this but I'm hoping the chilly weather persists at least until then so as many plants stay dormant as possible. If my front shade garden gets trampled I'll need to be sedated. Perhaps liberal use of crime scene tape around the area will do the trick.
One of the moves from my list that I'm excited about is the replacement of a damaged and diseased Viburnum with a previously poorly placed (try to say that three times fast) variegated Eleutherococcus.
Use your imagination and humor me here. Wouldn't a fountain of white and green variegated foliage make the perfect textural contrast and really brighten up this spot? Last year I made a decision to remove some gardens and simplify the ones that remained in front so I would have more time to concentrate on the gardens on the sides and in back of my house where I spend the majority of what little leisure time I have. So far I have yet to reap any rewards from that shift. Maybe this will be the year.
Just a quick note regarding the Tetrapanax I have listed under new plant acquisitions...I plan to grow this hardy in the ground. Plant Delights has it listed as zone 7b and I'm zone 6a/b. However Louis Raymond (Louis the Plant Geek) grows one hardy in the ground in nearby coastal Rhode Island (probably a solid zone 6b).
A few years ago local zone pushing plant geek, Steve Silk gave me a small Tetrapanax to try. Because it was later in the season I decided to over winter it in the garage which turned out to be a bad decision. Steve has had one growing for ten years in his garden in nearby Farmington. I've already chosen a spot on the south wall of my shed where the protection and drainage should be sufficient. If you have any additional advice on growing Tetrapanax, I'm all ears.