Monday, October 4, 2010

Just Cut It Out

I must admit there are times, even though I'm a plant fanatic first and a garden designer second (or, truthfully, last), that I am forced to see the folly of my ways and can even grow to hate a given plant. I don't often hate the plant for being a bad plant, mind, I usually just hate a specific specimen because of my own error of putting it in the wrong place or underestimating its ultimate size or for not providing the proper maintenance, or some combination of all of the above.

At such times, the longer I garden, the more willing I am to face facts and sever the apron strings; or in this case, the plant's stem.  Look if you will at the 'Josee' lilac (Syringa x 'Josee') in my front garden (arrows).  Now five years old, it has grown far bigger than the tag suggested, it obscures a window, and it is out of proportion with the rest of the front shrubs and perennials.  I tried cutting it back severely once, but a year later it is right back where we started; too big. To make my distaste for this plant worse, although I planted two of these beauties because they were the only reblooming lilac on the market (one in this bed and one in back of the house), neither has rebloomed well;  they do have a nice bloom in the spring towards the end of the period of the S. vulgaris hybrids, but then they have only a few sporadic small blooms over the summer and fall.  Now I could be partially to blame for that problem since the front bed of my house faces almost due north and so this particular lilac gets too much shade except in the summer, but the specimen I planted out back doesn't bloom any better and it gets southern exposure, full-day Kansas summer sun. 

So, on my list of things to get done this fall, I included banishing this lilac to a far bed on the property, perhaps never to be seen from again if it doesn't survive the move.  As you can see in the second picture, my front garden benefited tremendously from not having this behemoth squatting and pouting in the shade, and you can now see the house has a third nice window on that side.  And I'm happy, oh so happy, to be rid of that display of my horticultural ignorance. 

Sometimes I think I just need to let my surgeon side shine through more in the garden.  Amputation or excision is almost always the best first choice for treating a cancer and I know that, at least on a professional level.  Remove the tumor, cleanse the soul.    


  1. A stunning improvement!!! I have some 'amputations' of my own to perform as soon as the soil dries enough to permit them.

  2. Thanks, it did, didn't it? Sometime I'll post another overgrown Viburnum that I took out this summer and replaced with a couple of dainty clematis.

    Good luck with your own amputations!

  3. Nicely done! And there is something satisfying about taking out such a big old thing, like finally tackling a horrifically cluttered corner of the front room. Both the gardener and the garden seems able to take a big deep breath at last, and the eye can rest in the newly-freed space with a sign of pleasure and relief.

  4. Thanks for reading and commenting Li'l Ned. Your last sentence was lyrical Li'l Ned, almost poetic. I saw from your blog that you're a teacher. English perhaps?


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