That Wasn’t Smart 8.0

In hindsight this is the time of year when winter interest should take center stage, and the addition of conifers to the winter garden is probably the best way to keep the yard attractive during the bleakest of winter months.  I’ve heard that and have seen it in print as well, and even the most reluctant gardener will throw a few evergreens around the house as the first step in crafting an attractive landscape.   The message is out, and the majority of houses around here have a sensible foundation planting filled with neatly trimmed yews and junipers and whatever else can snuggle up to the house for year round appeal.

foundation border

Our own slightly less neat foundation plantings, with respectable holly, juniper, and chamaecyparis plantings lined up along the foundation. 

Why this gardener would chose December to remove a large juniper from a prominent front-of-the-house location is foolish enough, but to replace it with a small ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Amber Jubilee) is over into the not so smart category.  Reliable evergreen replaced with small clump of deciduous twigs… maybe you can understand that ‘uh-oh’ feeling I had as I stood there holding the saw and staring at a pile of juniper branches.

foundation border

If you look closely you might be able to see the newest addition to this foundation planting.  It’s right there at the center of the gaping hole which was created when the juniper was removed. 

In all honesty I never liked the juniper.  It made me itch and bored me and even though there were a thousand better things which I could be doing I suddenly needed to plant that ninebark at that minute even though I was right in the middle of putting up the Christmas lights.  As long as we’re opening up here, the Christmas lights were turning into a whole other project in themselves.

Christmas porch decoration

A Longwood inspired twig archway with lights.  Lots of lights.  

The reason I had the saw out in the first place was because I needed to take a walk in the woods and cut down and drag back enough birch trees to make a decent arch leading onto the porch.  I’m pretty sure a twig archway was what our holiday decorations have been lacking.

Speaking of things lacking, this blog has been lacking a snowdrop photo for months and since so many of you have been asking how the snowdrops are doing I guess it’s time to jump back into that world.  Here’s a batch of fall bloomers which my friend Paula shared with me a couple years ago.  They’re out on the driveway for this photo but have since moved into the garage in anticipation for the approaching cold… lows for next week show numbers around 10F (-12C) and that’s just not appropriate for such an innocent little flower… or for the box of tulip bulbs which just showed up on the doorstep this afternoon.

fall snowdrops

Fall blooming giant snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) with a nice green pattern to the inners.  

If pushed I’d have to admit that no one has actually asked about the snowdrops, but I’m sure they were wondering and I didn’t want to rudely ignore that.

Now I’m off to check out something I can’t even ignore for a minute.  Pamela at Pam’s English Garden has put up the post detailing her own recent visit to Longwood Gardens.  I knew she was there within a few days of my own visit and I’ve been looking forward to seeing her own impressions of the decorations.  I hope she doesn’t point out a bunch of cool things which I missed!

27 comments on “That Wasn’t Smart 8.0

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    After a couple of years, you won’t even remember the juniper. They are scratchy little devils anyway.
    I’m awaiting a dusk shot of that light display. I’m sure it’ll rival LGs! 😉

    • bittster says:

      It’s been two weeks (oh how I’ve neglected blogging) and I’ve already forgotten the juniper!
      I still haven’t taken a decent picture of the light show here. Should have thought of it while there was snow on the ground, but was just too warm and cozy inside, and spent way too much time patting myself on the back and admiring it 😉

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    A gardener has to do what a gardener has to do. I don’t blame you for getting rid of that itchy shrub. It belongs out in the north forty not right there in front of the house where it would taunt you daily. Your light display will be lovely. The snowdrops definitely are lovely. They need a home in the garden.

    • bittster says:

      Haha, yes I think you’re absolutely right! Seeing it there was a daily taunt 🙂 and I don’t miss it a bit. It’s hard though, convincing yourself that something that’s just fine is worth the trouble (and I guess risk) of replacing. Fortunately I’m not one to dwell on my mistakes either, so that makes these decisions much easier.
      The hard part is explaining to others all the much worse parts of the garden which I passed over while I was worrying about this little bit!

  3. pbmgarden says:

    Gardeners should follow their hearts. Hope you’ll enjoy the ninebark. The snowdrops are pretty and love that arch.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Susie. Now I just have to figure out just how long I can leave the arch up before it becomes too ‘unseasonal’. Maybe I can let it go until February if I just take the holiday lights off….

  4. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Passionate gardeners do what makes them happy, not what everybody else does. Good for you for making this bold decision!

    • bittster says:

      🙂 . Passionate gardeners should also take another look around the garden and notice all the other, far worse off areas which should have been attended to first! But you’re absolutely right. This is what made me happiest in December. The rest can wait 😉

  5. Cathy says:

    It was obviously a gut decision to remove the juniper, so I am sure you will not regret it Frank! Love the twig archway… and of course the snowdrops!

    • bittster says:

      Yes, you’re right that it was a gut reaction…. and then another gut reaction after I cut it down! The large empty spot was quite a change once the juniper was cut down and I did have my second thoughts, but just for a moment.

  6. Put me firmly in the “meh” camp when it comes to junipers. I know they are considered workhorses, useful, etc etc but for me they wear out their welcome fairly quickly. My new Renovation List includes several entries headed “remove the [insert name of offending or boring foundation conifer here]”, in fact.

    • bittster says:

      Some of those junipers are just… so… boring…
      Plus the annual trim to keep a six foot shrub in a three foot space, with a cleanup which always included prickly mini-needles which always gave me the itchies. Easy decision once it was made.
      Kind of like your viburnum.

  7. Diana Studer says:

    (Not enamoured of conifers, pines and fire hazard – is my reaction)

    Your twig archway will be stunning when lit up, and just as lovely in daylight.
    Imagine being able to casually harvest birch trees in your back garden!

    • bittster says:

      Yes, we here in the US are also being reminded of how much a fire hazard some of these plantings can be. Fortunately for us we are thousands of miles away in a much different climate!
      Don’t be too impressed with the birch-harvest! They’re more of a symptom of the poor soil, and damaged landscape the coal mining past has left for this area. Still they do look nice, and I’m glad to have access to them!

  8. Christina says:

    We all do these things. I hope you don’t regret it, I don’t think you will. Love the arch, can you come and do one for me?!

    • bittster says:

      I wish I could come and do one for you! It would be icing on the cake though, your patio and garden are already such beautiful compliments to your home 🙂
      I thought of you last week when my final late season tulip order arrived. There were a few ‘brown’ shades which I normally wouldn’t pick, but included because of how well they look in your garden. Hopefully the colors work here just as nicely!

  9. I’ve always despised evergreen foundation plantings, especially when made up of yews trimmed to 3-4′ whose natural height may be 10-20 feet. I have put many such yews out of their misery. So don’t be too hard on yourself. Great arch.

    • bittster says:

      I was looking at the house and decided that since we have no foundation showing, there wasn’t much of a reason to have foundation plantings. Don’t know why that hadn’t occurred to me sooner!
      I also don’t understand the tortured yew ball and cube effect. It’s even better when the entire rest of the yard is flat turf and then the house is nearly swallowed by strangely cut evergreens. It looks more like the house is hiding in a pillow-fort.

  10. I love that Physocarpus and it will be a nice addition. You will be glad you did this.

  11. Annette says:

    Initially it may look a bit bleak but they grow fast and then look quite pretty in winter too (I’ve got Diabolo). You could stick in a plastic xmas tree while you’re waiting, haha, no just kidding ;). The arch looks very pretty indeed. Wishing you a fab christmas and all the best for 2018, Frank! First snowdrops will be out in the woods soon, the days will be getting longer…so much to look forward to.

    • bittster says:

      Yay, today will be longer than yesterday (by however so slight :)). All the best for you as well in 2018, and Fröhliche Weihnacht!
      You know me well. I am absolutely excited about the upcoming snowdrop season… and spring in general!
      Don’t worry, no plastic trees outside, in fact I’m thinking of going completely plastic free in the garden next year. Wish me luck, pots will be the hardest part but I’ll allow myself to re-use some of the many nursery pots I keep and collect… there are so many other little things though and I will have to keep my plastic irrigation components.

  12. March Picker says:

    I see a great improvement! Really! That arch must provide a beautiful “welcome home” to all who pass beneath.

    • bittster says:

      I’m also pleased with the arch, and surprisingly enough it’s been well received by the non-gardeners who live here as well. I’m just trying to figure out how long past the holidays it can stay up, I’m hoping to make it through February before it wears out its welcome 😉

  13. Chloris says:

    Well I have been wondering about your snowdrops. When do we get an update?
    I love the birch archway with lights.

    • bittster says:

      It will be at least another month before there are any snowdrops to be seen. Once you begin to consider drinks on the patio and diner out by the summer house then it might finally be time for snowdrops here. Needless to say we’re not going to hold our breaths….

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