Once a nuisance, always …

The Golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata, below) is officially off the short list of the garden’s least favored plants. Sufficient ground is now covered within the radius of its seed drop so that there are few of the annoying seedlings that once grew by the thousands. I don’t expect golden rain will ever become a favorite, but I’ve cussed it so many times while weeding out seedlings that it deserves recognition now that the tree is no longer a huge nuisance.

Surrounded by lawn, I don’t expect this would be much of a problem, but here there’s little grass and for a long while, a lot of seedlings with ones that were hidden occasionally getting up to three or feet tall before they were jerked out. I never gave a thought to potting any up to share, but now we’re good.

Still, the golden rain is messy, with dead branches regularly littering the area beneath its wide spreading canopy. But, while it might never be a favorite, its late June flowers are splendid, the sole reason the nuisance was tolerated for so long.

Don’t suppose that this garden is free of mistakes. Today, I’m inclined not to call the Golden rain a mistake, possibly, but its neighbor is, most certainly. Look far overhead to see the lovely flowers of the tall sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum, above), and here is the problem. Shaded by the neighbor’s willow oak and trees in the garden, the lowest flowering branches of the sourwood are so high that most visitors would not know the tree exists, and I rarely think to look skyward and might miss its blooms completely some years.

And there’s more. The red new growth of ‘Wildfire’ black gum (Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’, above) is splendid, though its autumn foliage coloring is unremarkable compared to the species. I don’t regret planting it, but I’ve long anticipated that ‘Wildfire’ would eventually overwhelm a neighboring ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), and now it is. While other trees planted closely in the garden are able to fend for themselves, the ginkgo is quite slow growing, and the black gum is not. They don’t belong together, and now the ginkgo is nearly lost in the black gum’s spring growth.

What to do? The ginkgo has now disappeared from sight, and it can’t be long until it is completely overwhelmed and starved of sunlight. It’s much too large to move, so while it slowly fades I must enjoy the few more dwarf ginkgoes that at least for now are in full, open view. Is this a lesson learned? Yes, a lesson, but over thirty-three years in this garden it’s apparent that I’m a slow learner.

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