Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Horticulturally Frustrated

I know I've been talking almost non-stop about the new fence, plugging updates in at the end of posts, talking about what plants I'll put in after the fence is up, what I'm doing in preparation for adding those plants when the fence is completed, and generally bringing it up at any opportunity. What can I say? It's a major event and is at the forefront of my mind. And I'm getting seriously frustrated waiting for it to be finished. It's causing me to write lengthy, rambling posts like this one.

I was so excited the first day I saw fence posts in the ground, thinking, "Finally! It won't be long now!" How naive.
It took awhile to get started, because the contractor was short on workers. Then they finally started, showing up for two days. Then work stopped again, because the contractor's pickup broke down. They didn't show up at all the next week. Then they came back and worked one day before disappearing again. I don't expect them today, with the holiday, and I'm not holding my breath for them to show up this week at all. I'm half-expecting to hear the workers broke down or the contractor is short on trucks. Meanwhile, I've been in a virtual gardening limbo, waiting for the fence to be finished so I can continue moving plants out of the driveway island and finally start putting in the new plants.

My dad and I decided the 'Crimson Pygmy' barberries could live at the head of the driveway, where the fence leaves a corner of land on either side to make the turn into the driveway easier. There's plenty of room for them there, they're colorful, and they can live outside of the fence. Out there, they can continue teasing the deer with their soft new growth suddenly changing into hard, tongue-piercing spines. But there's no point digging up those barberries until the fence is finished, or at least in the area where they'll be going. And I can't get a good idea of how I want to rearrange things within that bed until the barberries are gone. So I'm stuck with the driveway island project until the fence is done. In fact, there isn't much point in planting too much of anything until the fence is completed and I no longer have to worry (hopefully) about making more cages or remembering to reapply deer repellent as things grow. In fact, I've been asked to "slow down" on plant purchases until the fence is finished. You go on one plant binge at Tsugawa's and suddenly you need to "slow down." Not that I won't snap up something hard to find if I stumble across it or if I find a plant that I have in mind for a spot that's already open and that plant is deer-resistant anyway.

The bed along the front of the house is also at a bit of a standstill,. I moved everything but a large orange Calluna vulgaris, Dracunculus vulgaris, a few common sedums, and a garden-variety evergreen azalea out of that bed. The heather may stay in the bed, but not where it is now. The sedums are right along the edge where I can leave them and build up the rest of the soil in the bed like I did for the other half (which I posted about here, along with my Tsugawa binge). The azalea and dracunculus are the problems. The azalea is huge, and neither I nor my father are particularly eager to move it. I could take it out more easily if I was just going to discard it. Chop it up as much as I please, no need to worry about getting a big enough root ball. But I'm loathe to part with a mature specimen plant, even if it is a nameless, shapeless evergreen azalea. I want to fill space, not make more of it. I'm not really sure where it should go, either, but it will make a good seasonal mass of color somewhere. The dracunculus, which has earned the nickname "Stinky" (clever, I know) is just about to bloom and earn its name for another year. I'm not particularly worried about killing it by moving it now. I just can't bring myself to move it before it blooms. It's really outdone itself this year. The base of the mottled stem is at least three inches in diameter and the spathe is 26.5 inches long from bulbous base to attenuated apex (don't tell me you've never measured yours). How can I dig that up, possibly shocking it enough to die back early, before it has a chance to open? I can't finish adding soil to that bed and plant it up until those two plants move.
Azalea on the left, Stinky in the middle, and the heather on the right,  barring me from finishing adding soil and putting in new plants.
I've been watching it grow all spring. How can I dig it up now when it's about to bloom?

To top it all off, this last week was perfect gardening weather: cool, overcast, even a little drizzle and nocturnal rain. Prime planting weather. And there I was twiddling my green thumbs, repotting a few houseplants; trimming and weeding a bit here and there while I wandered around in a lost, forlorn daze wishing I could be taking advantage of the weather. I'm pretty sure my plants are sick of my constant close inspections. Have you grown since I looked last? Do you need water? Can I offer you a bite of fertilizer? Do you need a trim?

I finally snapped and got a little planting in, with plants I had already purchased and were waiting around in their pots anyway. A couple weeks ago at Tsugawa's, I found a Heptacodium miconioides in the discount section and couldn't leave it behind. I already had a spot cleared where an experimental Magnolia nitida had died over the winter.

Heptacodium looking good in its new home. It will need some pruning next year to improve the branch structure.

At Lael's Moon Garden, I picked up Elaeagnus pungens 'Maculata'. I had trouble deciding on a location for it. I settled on moving my Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon' and planting the elaeagnus in it's place. On top of growing too slowly for the location anyway, I discovered that ants were chewing on the new leaves and shoots of the poncirus. I suppose it must have very tasty sap. I moved the poncirus to the bed off of the back patio, away from the ants (well, those specific ants, anyway) where its twisted branches can be appreciated more closely. The elaeagnus is much better suited for the Flying Dragon's former home, being more tolerant of drought, faster growing, and evergreen. The site really called for something evergreen to block the view of the neighbors.
In full sunlight, this Elaeagnus is almost too bright, but it glows on cloudy days and late into the evening.

Flying Dragon is much better off here, where it can be appreciated. Someday it will bear fuzzy little oranges that will show up nicely against the blue Atlas cedar in the background. 
Since I already had everything out, I grabbed my two seed-grown tree peonies and planted them. One went to the end of the long rhododendron border. The other went to the paperbark maple bed, another bed waiting to be filled. All four plants received a healthy dose of deer repellent, even though they are supposedly deer-resistant. That depleted my stock of plants I knew where to put, so I returned to shambling around the garden, thinking of where to plant various seedlings of camellias, chimonanthus, and others after they've grown more, and planning what plants to add after the fence is done. It all comes back to that infuriating fence, or lack there of.

16 comments:

  1. It's fun to read your musings Evan, not long now and that much needed fencing will be finished, fingers crossed!

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    1. I keep telling myself things like, "Maybe they're waiting for the concrete around the posts to set."

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  2. Your trials and tribulations will soon be a distant memory. You'll be so busy shopping planning and planting that all frustrations will melt away. The conifer combo looks terrific.

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    1. I'm just worried that by the time the fence is done it will be too hot to plant and I'll have to wait until fall.

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  3. It's so frustrating waiting for workers to finish what they've started. I've been there.

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    1. I know I'm not alone. I keep telling myself to be patient, but...

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  4. I'm sorry to say that you had me laughing along with some of this.I can imagine how frustrating it all is! Every time we start a project with new contractors (3 this spring) Andrew has to remind me how unreliable they will be. When one guy called to tell me he was going to be 15 minutes late to the appointment to give me a bid, well he practically had the job then and there, since I've had others show up an hour late with no call, or not show up at all. Anyway...lovely placement of the 'Flying Dragon' and stinky is looking fine! Mine is about to burst into bloom too, and no, I've never measured it. But then I'm a girl.

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    1. I did my best to make this more of a laugh than a whine-fest. Does that guy do fences?

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  5. A good rant is hard to beat. You KNOE this audience can empathize.

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    1. It's good to have people who can understand my pain.

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  6. Haha! Too true about contractors...but you've got some choice plants there. That Elaeagnus is lovely and you're right: you wouldn't dare move that Dracunculus yet especially when there's measuring to be done ;-)

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    1. Thanks for complimenting my plants. They grow better when people stroke their egos. ;)

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  7. The gentle unfolding of time will take care of all. The fence and greenhouse will be finished, all will be well. Take a deep breath through your nose, exhale slowly through your mouth, imagine the projects already complete and how you feel as the last contractor's truck pulls away. Tension and anxiety leave your body with your exhaled breath...Enough of that crap, where's the flippin' fence?

    I've never measured my Dracunculus vulgaris but it's cousin Amorphophallus konjac is just emerging from the soil here so maybe I'll measure that.

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    1. Haha! Don't give me that namaste crap! I want a fence and I want it now! I don't want to wait until fall to plant things.

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  8. I've always thought that there would be a huge market for a reliable contractor. Unfortunately, such a person seems no more real than the unicorn.

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