And I think I’m fine with that.
This dawned on me last night when I was digging up a nearly dead Barberry ‘Crimson Pygmy’ and moving some Cimicifuga racemosa into its place. The tough winter nearly took out all three of the barberry in the garden, but this one was especially hard hit, with just a few tufts of new growth near the base. The other two got away with a few dead branches. I wasn’t in love with the location of the barberry–it had grown too shady–so it was a generally happy transition.
Could I toss the carcass, though? Absolutely not and it is in a holding pen, with its roots in an unused firebowl of rainwater, until I find a new spot for it in the yard. I can’t bring myself to toss something with any sign of life and this can make for a crowded and sometimes untidy space, but such is the life of a plant social worker.
Something similar is going on where I cut down the declining lilac at the corner of the house. It also had been greatly encroached upon by the nearby red oak and over the past few years it’s leaves and flowers had dwindled down to nothing. It was sad, this was the only plant besides a cranky annoying silver maple in the Garden Drama test garden when we moved in 20 years ago, but I accepted the laws of natural selection and got out the pruning saw and went to town.
I did not remove the stump (too much back breaking) and I planted a new Viburnum ‘Mohican’ beside the stump. Well, up come the lilac sprouts from the stump and they are verdant and and sturdy. I can’t remove them, I just can’t, and I’m sure there is a nice robust root ball beneath. I now have plans to move the Viburnum to a new locale and let the lilac reclaim its place in the landscape. The red oak was limbed up this pas winter, so here’s hoping the extra sunlight will help it return to its glory days. It is a lovely deep plum purple lilac.
I bet there are a few more of you plant geek horticultural social workers out there hearing what I am saying. You are the types who:
- Can’t stand to see a volunteer seedling be hoed under. Aren’t they just the happiest sight, even if your plant good samaratism is a pain in your own butt.
- Allow some plants like brown-eyed Susan, globe thistle and sedge grass to send down roots wherever they land, sometimes resulting in a random garden design. Hey, celebrate the beauty of the unexpected in your landscape plan. A tall planting at the front of a border creates wonderful depth.
- Rescue plants out of dumpsters and clearance racks that look like they have been through a hurricane or nuclear disaster. You bring them home and put them in a saucer of water for a slow and steady drink and soon they are back in tip-top shape.
We may never have the pristine rolling vistas and perfectly manicured gardens that we oogle over in the magazines and in “those” parts of town, but our gardens will have heart and personality and rejoice, we will never have a shortage of plants.