A new project

Another big project is on the horizon, probably for this weekend. Once I’m motivated, there’s little to stop me, even my wife’s insistence, and though it pains me to give in, this is a project my wife has long suggested so there will be no resistance on her part. I might even earn a few attaboys for finally doing it. That’ll be a switch.

An old yellow tipped English yew (Taxus baccata ‘Dovastoniana Aurea Pendula’, above) is no longer yellow tipped, or barely so in this shady half of the garden, and worse, it has grown far too large, though I’ll refuse under oath to admit this. For days after a rain, branches hang low over the stone path, and the gutters on the lower end of the house remain hopelessly clogged with needles. This spring I notice that it’s thinning, and this is the last straw that helped decide that this unusual yew must come out.

This is not a simple project (nothing is, it seems). The yew is more than twenty feet tall, with multiple trunks within a few feet of the house. I’m hardly concerned about the house since none of the trunks are huge, but I’ll have to figure how to drop them without damaging the neighboring jungle of treasures. I’ll figure it out, and already I’m preparing a shopping list to fill the space, which is quite large with the pendulous branches of this monster.

A built in hazard of rehabbing long established parts of the garden is that the gardener will not be satisfied with a “just started” look. So, larger plants are necessary, and usually these must be planted closer together than is suggested so the new garden is acceptably full from the start. Of course, I’m enthused that I’m able to do more new planting than my now typical plugging tiny perennials into the few remaining gaps in this thirty-one year old garden. Following the chain saw, this will require use of a rarely used shovel, instead of carving out holes with a trowel.

Though this spot could be a bit too shady, I’ll start with a variegated dogwood, and build from there. A ‘Celestial Shadow’ dogwood (above) was lost two years ago in overly damp ground at the low end of the rear garden (though I just saw a bit of sucker growth from the roots). I’ve looked for a spot for another, and here’s the opportunity. No, it won’t perish in this shaded spot, but will it grow and flower? I think yes, and even without flowers the yellow variegated leaves will be a plus.

After the dogwood, I’ll figure it out, but a few shrubs will be needed to fill this space thirty feet across, and from then I’ll add whatever perennials catch my eye. There are always a few overcrowded hostas to transplant, and I figure it won’t take long for the area to look acceptable. If the dogwood thrives, which I’m betting it will, I’ll be much happier with the new planting than the old yew. You might wonder why I delayed this project so long, despite my wife’s pleadings?

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Linus Chen says:

    Yew can do it!

    (And what about some shade tolerant vines for the house? Clematis armandii; Kadsura japonica?)

    1. Dave says:

      Without this massive yew there is no support for non-clinging vines. A twining vine would be ideal on this blank wall, and I’ve long considered kadsura, but I probably will not be adding the supports to this area.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    That dogwood looks familiar. We used to grow dogwoods, and a few that happened to be variegated. I did not like growing them much because I knew that many or most went to climates where they were not happy. The variegated cultivars are more sensitive to the aridity here than the straight green sorts. It is gratifying to now work with dogwoods that are in a climate they are happy with; which happens to be just a few miles away from chaparral climates.

    1. Dave says:

      Celestial Shadow is a mutation of the Rutgers hybrid Celestial , which is a cross of Eastern and Pacific dogwoods.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        So, it is like ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ in that regard. It looks more like the Cornus florida parent.

      2. Dave says:

        We used to bring in ‘Eddie’s’, but no one knew what it was so it didn’t sell. Cornus florida is our state tree, so it’s difficult to sell another dogwood.

      3. tonytomeo says:

        Eddie’s white wonder was the most popular for us. I was none too keen on the Cornus florida because it does not do so well in most of the climates around here.

  3. Ray says:

    Your post sounded like me and my redbud. I went out today and actually pruned the guy. Afterwards, it looks so much better. I hope it felt like me after my recent haircut last weekend.

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