Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Don't say I didn't warn you!

It was a few years ago that my selection of Mophead Hydrangeas began to fall from favour!  At one point I had 6 of them growing in various positions around the garden.  Slowly but surely they have all been swapped for something that has a bit more too offer. 

The last 2 remaining plants had been told that it was time to shape up or ship out!  Their cards were marked!  The fact that they were very slow to leaf up this spring added weight to my argument that they really need replacing.  Bare twigs for 6 months of the year is not a good look! Is it?
Whilst I might be tolerant to the fact that my favourite shrub - Cornus alternifolia is very late to produce it's leaves, I am in fact grateful for this.  Leafing up any earlier would make the young buds susceptible to any late frosts that might come our way.  Gardeners certainly don't grow Mophead Hydrangeas for their foliage, do they? Therefore I can't use this argument as part of the case to keep them.  Another argument against is their massive blooms - more often than not by the time they flower here in Scotland the winds and the weight of the flowers will have brought them crashing to their knees!  There is little excitement to be had when you look out across the garden to throw them an admiring glance only to see them face down looking rather worse for wear.
The search for replacements was not top of my list, my ever increasing plant wish list wasn't getting any shorter.  I was happy to bide my time until alternatives presented themselves to me.  That was until I came across a lovely looking shrub Viburnum sargentii Onondaga.  A quick check on my local (and favourite) nursery's website Binny Plants I found that they had it listed.  A  phone call to check they had stock and to put one aside for me.  I picked it up yesterday and immediately could see how much more it had to offer than a boring old Hydrangea!  It's not such a good idea to live within a 10 minute drive of at least 6 well run and well stocked nurseries.  The pocket always suffers!

Hydrangea this morning before work started

Ready for the bin
As you can see - there has been no flowers on the plant this year.  I know not why!  Other than remove the dead flowers in May it remained untouched.  Since this plant was to go to the great big compost bin in the sky I pruned of all the stems to make it easier to manoeuvre round to the bin.

As I was popping the green stuff into the bin round the front - a neighbour passed by.  Still hard at it she asked?  Yes, I'm taking out a Hydrangea as I've got a new plant for it's space.  If your throwing it out I'll take it she said.  No problem....I'll bring it round when I get it out of the ground.  I did warn her that as it's been pruned right down to the ground it might take a few years to flower again.  She was perfectly happy with that - she loved them and didn't mind waiting!  When I appeared at her door, she then told me that she didn't have a spade!!  You know where this is going don't you!!!!  Back to the house for my spade, a wee while later it had pride of place in her back garden!  I gave it some bonemeal and told her to keep on top of watering for the next wee while until it is raining regularly.

Back to work in my own garden.  The gap now left behind
   
The hole left behind was much greater than would have been required - I back filled with a mixture of fresh topsoil and soil improver.  Together with some bonemeal it should add enough nutrients back into the soil.  The soil here is generally good anyway, it is mulched every year and has had goodness knows how much compost added over the years.

Viburnum sargentii Onondaga
Here it is in it's new home - well watered and the remainder of the bag of soil improver was used to give the whole area a mulch.  I also took the opportunity to rehome an Actaea simplex Brunette and tidy up the Persicaria Red Dragon. 

It has much more to offer than the Hydrangea don't you think.  It will have bronze and purple foliage in springtime.  White lacecap type flowers too!  It's still not clear whether I will have berries or not - I have other Viburnums in the garden, so here's hoping! 

As for Autumn interest, lets take a closer look at it's autumn colour

Bronze maple like leaf

 


Provides much more than Hydrangea foliage don't you think?  I love the bronze colouring and as the shrub grows it should really look good against the dark green of the holly hedge behind.   

For those who may be interested Viburnum sargentii Onondaga, has been awarded the AGM by the RHS.  It is recommended for Full Sun/Part Shade/Full Shade situations.  Prefers moist soil or moist but well drained.  It is in pruning group 1 and carries a hardiness rating of H6 (very cold winter) or the USDA zones 6b/7a.  Follow the link for full RHS information on this plant.

You might well be asking yourself, what of the other Hydrangea?  As I have yet to find a replacement - it can stay where it is for now!   The neighbour will take that one too - I told her husband to get himself a spade and have the hole dug and prepared and I might just appear at short notice.....well you never know do you?

22 comments:

  1. Glad you told the neighbor to get a spade and dig the next hole. I can't imagine asking for a plant - and for the plant to be planted, too! That was very sweet of you. And I'm sure your neighbor will appreciate the gift for years to come. I personally love hydrangeas, but only because it's a sentimental tie to my grandmother. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have any. They are lovely when in bloom, but otherwise, not so much. I love your viburnum, and it will give you interest through all the seasons!

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    1. Thanks Holley. I'm just pleased not to have to throw away an otherwise healthy plant. It wasn't the plant's fault I had fallen out of love with it :)

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  2. The moral to this story? One gardener's junk is another's jewel. Isn't it nice that you and your neighbor came out ahead? Well, the neighbor may have flinched a bit on the working end.

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    1. Ricki - I didn't mind doing it - the took over a garden full of engine parts and dog pooh - I was only pleased they got rid before I had to dig!!!

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  3. Well, six months of twigs is about what I get, too--but that's true of many of my plants! Ha! Living here in the north, we are fortunate if we have shrub foliage from May through October. Only the evergreens last throughout the year. I'm glad your neighbor wanted the Hydrangea, and maybe she'll eventually take the other one, too--but this time do more of the work! ;-)

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    1. Beth - I don't mind the 6 months of twigs if the plant has something else to offer but waiting for all those months only to see the flowers hit the ground is not worth the wait!
      She will take the other one and I'm make sure they do the work :)

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  4. The viburnum has great colouring, and its good the other plant was able to be re-homed. In garden centres hydrangeas always look great but the one in my garden hasn't done well at all.

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    1. Kelli - I'm always drawn to them in the Garden Centres but haven't been tempted in a long time! I hope given time yours improved.

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  5. I know how you feel about the mopheads. The ones I had have all been removed also. Just not worth the space used for a couple blooms. You'll like the Viburnum much better as you know. I mostly have the Hydrangea paniculata's here. They do excellent.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Cher, I do have H. paniculata Pinky Winky and that's going to be a keeper! No faffing about re pruning time etc. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  6. A very good Viburnum, beautiful colour of foliage and nice flowers in spring. I love Viburnums and have some in my garden but also Hydrangeas, they are growing and blooming like mad here in our peat soil, but the best is to plant them in groups.

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    1. Janneke - it is a beautiful plant and I'm sure I won't regret giving it a go! Hydrangeas generally do well here in too. They do look stunning planted in groups, providing you've the room that is!

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  7. Strange thing with your Hydrangea, Angie. I would have thought they do well where you live. In my Swiss garden they wouldn't flower because all new growth kept dying back in the winter but surely you don't get such cold winters, do you? Good choice your Viburnum - I hope it does well for you.

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    1. Annette - they usually do well here in Scotland. They are a garden favourite - you rarely pass a garden without one! The fact that I'm disappointed is no reflection on how well they grow here.

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  8. Hi Angie,

    Never a fan of Hydrangeas myself, however I do love the skeletal blooms in winter/spring. There are some lovely newer varieties i.e. not mopheads that I'm tempted by though (mostly in the US unfortunately and I'm yet to see them here). I got rid of mine, it was in the front garden and really struggling - no doubt due to it never receiving direct sunlight (I didn't plant it there!). When I came to dig it up, it actually appeared to be three plants that I then gave to my parents. I've since replaced it with a Skimmia, this is much happier in the shady corner.

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    1. Liz - the H. paniculata might be the ones you are talking about. I bought one last year and it has settled in well. Pruning hard in March as they flower on new wood - means no confusion. They are lovely and I've seen them in lots of GCs up here.
      Glad to read your Skimmia is doing well. Mine got flooded last year and has taken up til now to recover!

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  9. Your Viburnum is a very handsome fellow, and looks quite happy in his new home. Plants like to be appreciated, just as people do! Unfortunately it sounds like it would not be hardy here, as we are USDA zone 5. I am interested that you like C. alternifolia, which goes by the common name pagoda dogwood here. It grows well north of where I live but does not like our hot summers. (Cold winters, hot summers - doesn't seem fair, does it?)

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    1. If we get an extraordinarily cold one it might not make it here either Jason!! Fingers crossed :)
      The C. alternifolia I grow is variegated and is truly is a beauty (well I think so!) We have the not so cold winters here and certainly not the hot summers - I wish!!

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  10. I have both Viburnums and Hydrangeas and don't think I would want to choose between them, Viburnums are pretty in the spring and the Hydrangeas all summer, I don't think I would want to be without either!

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    1. Pauline - the fact that this has autumn interest too is a bonus. No room for both and since the Hydrangea has had it's day - it was good while it lasted!

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  11. It certainly does have lovely autumn colour.

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  12. I have slowly been replacing hydrangeas as well since they rarely flower due to our frequent late frosts in spring. I love viburnums and added several last year. This year it was spicebush and a mock orange

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