Field of Science

Two kinds of shrubs

Shrubs, those intermediaries between real trees and almost woody plants, fall into to two categories: cooperative and uncooperative. Loyal readers and avid gardeners well understand my prohibition on poodling (lollypopping) shrubs as this type of pruning takes the natural form and transforms it into something totally artificial and alien looking. You might as well use plastic! Cooperative shrubs assume a pleasing form with little intervention on our part, and this is most excellent. However, there are also uncooperative shrubs, and there are only two solutions: one, give them a hard pruning, a second, or third, or fourth chance so to speak, to grow in a pleasing manner, or two, rip the buggers out and try something new. The second option is very drastic because time and money have been invested, but every now and then you have to know when to throw in the trowel and start anew. Presently the bane of my shrubbery is a short row of six dwarf mock oranges planted to provide a low border in front of taller trees and shrubs. So far the only part that has performed true to name has been "mock"; dwarf, is questionable, and not a flower so far. Pass the loppers; suffice it to say they dwarf now. If they value their place in our gardens, regrowing in a pleasing form and flowering nicely next spring would be advised. The mock oranges should take a lesson from a thicket of hugely overgrown Forsythia, which after being lopped back to basics earlier this year are sprouting forth with gracefully arched new branches, rejuvenated and for a year or so, tamed. We will not speak of our garden zombie, a trumpet creeper, which has not grown in our garden in anyone's memory, but whose skeletal shoots inexplicably keep arising from the beneath the earth, and you get chills just thinking about its supposedly dead corpse moldering down there. What would voo doo?

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