Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Anyonewanna Euonymus?

'Moonshine' Euonymus
No plant is more mundane, and likely more underused in our landscapes, than poor mispronounced, maligned euonymus.  It is the sad, simpleminded stepchild of gardening, spurned by buyers at big box stores and absent on the tables of many local nurseries, no prospect of noticeable flower or seed to improve its appeal.  It receives little press, little fanfare to announce either its planting or death, but euonymus , also known as wintercreeper, grows gamely on, a steadfast evergreen anchor of the bourgeois landscape.

Consider this blog entry a plea to resurrect its rightful place in the border, an entreaty to envision and enact a euonymus Eden, if you will.  I'm aware that it is contemptible in its commonality, boring in its banality, but it is hardy and hale and handsome in most sites.  The biggest and really the only failing of euonymus is actually the gardener's lack of imagination and foresight in cultivar selection and placement.

ProfessorRoush is not fond of coniferous evergreens, and may therefore subsequently be more open to experimentation with broad-leaf evergreens than perhaps your average mediocre dirt-digger, so I've grown several euonymus over time.  And while Euonymus kiautschovicus 'Manhattan' is the most common euonymus grown here in Manhattan, Kansas (the "Little Apple", as opposed to Manhattan, New York, the "Big Apple"), I've managed to avoid it like it was poisonous.  Hard to believe, but it simply is too bland, and grows too big, even for me.

'Emerald Gaiety' Euonymus
 I've long enjoyed Euonymus fortunei 'Emerald Gaiety', however, as a repeated fixture in my landscape, and I get entirely overexcited over E. fortunei 'Moonshadow', preferring the latter over the similar, but more trashy, 'Emerald 'n' Gold' cultivar.   'Emerald Gaiety' looks good for 50 of the 52 weeks in a given year, with lighter lime-green new growth in the spring and pink-tinged chilly edges in the winter, losing its appeal only at the end of winter when old leaves drop and brown over a few weeks.  'Moonshadow' provides an enduring and  beautiful specimen shrub on both sides of my entry walkway, glowing most brightly with the new growth of Spring.  Pruning either shrub is easily accomplished; just remove the fast-growing spikes each spring to keep it shaped and remove any non-variegated growth that occurs.  I've also shaped both cultivars with hedge-trimmers in early Spring, without any visible long-term detriment to their survival or appearance.

Right now they are quiet, mere notes in the landscape, their unobtrusive presence noted in the photo here by the white arrows in my front border.  They are obedient and calm, providing light contrast and balance to the bountiful flowering perennials among them.   In winter, however, THEY are the color, resistant green and white or green and yellow splotches to remind me that life remains in the garden despite the frigid temperature and frozen gales.  I depend on them, and ignore them, their devoted and yet fickle gardener, taking full advantage of their easy-going nature and their pest-free presence.

And "euonymus" is pronounced, for those who-wanna-know, if-you-must-know, "yoo-on-uh--muh-s".  So there. 

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