Right Plant Right Place

02 Oct 2012 | 12:00 AM PDT | Posted by seasoil.com Staff | Category: Gardening

Right Plant Right Place

We are all guilty of buying on impulse and us gardeners seem to be the worst for giving in to the need to buy just because it looks so nice and pretty. When we get our purchase home we wander around with it in hand wondering where the heck we're going to plant it. It ends up being plunked in somewhere ‘for now' because we have to get dinner started or we figure "once the such and such dies down I can plant it there". A season comes and goes and then another and next thing you know that nice and pretty has now become too big and pushy all because we fell victim to impulse.

You can get away with this type of gardening when it's perennials or bulbs because usually you can move them without too much hassle when you finally get around to finding an appropriate place but when you're talking trees, well, that's when people get into trouble.

At the nursery we sometimes wonder what some people's yards will be like in ten years and hope that they have a wood-burning fireplace because they'll be cutting down a lot of trees in the future. Some turn a deaf ear to us when we warn about the growth rate of a particular tree. They fell in love with it and are adamant that it's going in their garden.

I, too, have been susceptible to ignoring labels and within a few years have realized that my eagerness to own such a specimen would soon result in heartache. The sound of a chain saw on a sunny afternoon or the thud of a pickaxe can send me into gloomy doldrums, knowing that it was my foolishness that led to the death of another tree.

I'm not saying don't plant big trees. Just make sure you know how big they will finally get and that you have the room for them at maturity (their maturity, not yours). I recently pulled over to the side of the road to sadly watch the massacre of a beautiful stand of fir trees. They were being ‘pruned' into a hedge, probably because they were blocking the sun into the back yard so understandable but whoever planted them there in the first place should've had the foresight to figure that they'd eventually be too big there.

Kudos to whoever designed the commercial landscape for the Longwood Station area in Nanaimo. Every time I drive through there I admire the thoughtfulness that went into deciding what plants to use where. The bigger trees are columnar types or dwarf varieties so will never have to be cut back or they are tall with a canopy so plenty of room underneath. Nothing is too big for the area it's planted in. Someone was thinking when he or she put that landscape plan together.

About five years ago I took home three sickly looking Leyland Cypress (Cupressocyparis leylandii) that were destined for the garbage bin. They didn't look like they'd make it but I felt sorry for them, planted them in some Sea Soil and watered them over the season. They hung on and through the winter they greened up and looked like they'd recover. When I planted them they were maybe a foot and a half tall. Now they're monsters and my kids use them as a secret hiding place in the back yard. Just goes to show you how quickly a tree can take up its designated space.

So next time you're in a market for a tree read the label. Look at not only the mature height of the tree but the width also. Think about power lines, septic fields, driveways and walkways. Consider your neighbour and how close to the fence you're planting. Think about where the sun is in the sky at the time you're likely to want sun in your yard and how a tree will affect that.

Know that you can admire the majestic tree you've seen in a huge sprawling park but you don't have to own it. Pick something more suitable for your yard and enjoy it for years to come otherwise you'll have to invest in a chain saw and build a woodshed.


Article by Shirley Eppler

Cultivate Garden and Gift



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