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The Elephant In The Room

Posted by runktrun z7a MA (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 29, 09 at 13:54

Standing much like an elephant in the room I have an Osmanthus heterophyllus that has out grown the garden space it is in and rather than digging this pachyderm up and prodding it along to a more appropriate border with a bull hook like garden tool I have buried my head in the soil for what has perhaps been too long. The last few years I have taken the simplistic tact of trying to camouflage this elephant by planting larger trees near by but frankly this has been as successful as adding two large chairs to a tiny room hoping no one would notice the polka dot sectional sofa. I am also considering shearing this guy down by one third or more of its over all size but I am not sure if this will leave me a shrub with a bad hair cut and no hat to hide it. Has anyone severely sheared an Osmanthus? How long did it take to fill in? This is a nice specimen of Osmanthus heterophyllus so I hate the thought of risking loss from transplant or dwarfing it with pruning shears each year, do you have any other ideas for what can be done with a large shrub in a small garden? kt.


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 29, 09 at 14:07

Got photos?

Claire


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

Claire,
I hesitated to post photos as they can be pretty deceiving but here goes any way.
Photobucket
Photobucket


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 29, 09 at 20:14

Nice osmanthus! Does it bloom in the fall? I have a big one myself and would never want to cut it back.

To my eyes, the problem is not that you have a huge elephant in the room, but that all of the other plants are roughly one height, knee to waist high.

I would add a few tallish skinny plants (it looks like you have a tall skinny conifer by the door), but place them throughout the garden to give a visual range of plant sizes. That way the osmanthus wouldn't be out of place and you could still keep your variety of established plants.

Maybe some eremurus for the summer and skinny conifers for the winter.

A few blooming roses on cedar tuteurs would echo your nice rose that you're training up the roof.

I'm sure other people will have good ideas - I'm looking forward to the responses.

Claire


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

Thank you Claire I really appreciate you taking the time to share your in-put, but now might be a good time to share the point that this is a small In Your Face garden that taller plants can easily become very overwhelming.
To my eyes, the problem is not that you have a huge elephant in the room, but that all of the other plants are roughly one height, knee to waist high.
Good eye Claire I have intentionally over the years attempted to keep the height of most plants no higher than 3' so this front entry garden is not hiding the house from view (frankly not a simple task).


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RE RE: The Elephant In The Room

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 29, 09 at 20:54

In that case, KT, I would move the osmanthus to somewhere where it can stay its natural size, rather than keep hacking at it and cutting off the blooms.

I had to move my big old osmanthus when we started construction. I hired a landscaper who picked up the osmanthus with a Bobcat and trundled it across the yard. This was in the fall of 2004, and it's been flourishing in the new location.

Last fall it looked the best I've ever seen it, so it moves easily. Here it's blooming next to a winterberry in fruit. You'd lose so many flowers if you tried to keep it small. I will admit that when I first started restoring it, I pruned it drastically to get it into reasonable shape, and it took it admirably.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

That's a great looking house so I can understand your wanting to keep it visible.

Claire


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

I support Claire's idea about tall-skinny conifers, but if this is not possible....osmanthus responding very well to shearing/pruning.


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

Not being familiar with this plant, I googled it and found this picture at Iseli's. Much huger and very sheared. Notice their little teeny neighbors, albeit a commercial "garden".

they say "amenable to shearing", but I like the idea of it growing more au naturale in a better place. I would suggest my gardens if it was a zone 5 plant!

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.iselinursery.com/photopages/OsmanthusheterophyllusGoshiki.htm


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

Yes, I was going to suggest my garden too. It's a beautiful plant and although I admit my standards are low I'd leave it right where it is, if I were you.

I have one in fairly heavy shade, and although I like the placement of mine in terms of not being "in your face" it hardly flowers there. Now I'll have to consider moving it into the sun... yours looks very happy there.


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

As much as I would like to take credit some sort of credit for how this Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki' has developed I must admit that this variety of Osmanthus is naturally extremely dense and mounding. I wish you were all here in my garden with me as this really is one of those times where the issue is lost in photographs. I think one of the issues that I am having a hard time communicating is as you walk up this brick path to the house you are surrounded on both sides as well as behind you with garden and having something so large and looming is a little intimidating. I need to call my tree guy about some sick Ilex so at the same time I will see what his schedule is like for moving this, although you know how that goes once you move one thing...the musical chairs begins.


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

As you say, it's hard to tell from the photos, but I like it there, even as large as it is. It provides a transition from the lower plants to the building height, without which I think the jump might be a bit abrupt. From the angle of the photo, which looks like what you see coming up to the house, it is balanced to some degree on the other side of the wakway by the obelisk-shrub-rose combination, although the mass of those are less. Maybe my reaction is more of a reflection of my design skills (or lack of) than anything else, but I usually find that houses with only low-growing plants in front look a bit awkward to me. Where it is situated it doesn't seem to block too much of the house itself, just the end and the gap between the garage and house.

Regardless, I always enjoy when you post photos of your garden - it's lovely.


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

It's definitely very massive. A small, delicate flowering tree would probably work very well there, but it wouldn't have the visual mass.


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 31, 09 at 11:48

I didn't realize your osmanthus is an O. h. 'Goshiki' - my big osmanthus is the straight species, I think, so it's a little bit looser growing. I also have three little Goshikis on their way to becoming massive. One of them is in the front of the photo I posted.

My own feeling is that you might be able to drastically reduce the size of the osmanthus and it would survive, but it will never be happy that way and will always be trying to grow bigger. Since the new growth is so beautiful on a Goshiki, I can't imagine cutting it off each year. Pruning is a good tool to manage the growth and health of a shrub/tree, but it will not change the character of the plant.

It's a little like saying "My child has all these beautiful clothes, but is getting too big for them. Maybe I should stunt the child's growth so the clothes will still fit."

On another note, it amused me when you said:

"... you know how that goes once you move one thing...the musical chairs begins."

I'm in the throes of deciding on the musical chair order - I need to move a lot of plants because of natural growth or unexpected, but desirable, multiplication (where did those two little Rosa Rugosa Yankee Ladies come from? And where are they going to go?).

Claire


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RE RE: The Elephant In The Room

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 31, 09 at 12:02

I was just searching my bookmarks for something unrelated to this thread, and I happened on this Rant by Tony Avent on Crape Murder - The Unkind Cut.

Claire


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

Speaking of musical chairs,

I had a musical chair explosion last year. It was so confusing because I was starting to see many plants I decided were history and was ready to compost or give away and I had thoughts of what would take their place. THen I had the plants that needed bigger spots. Then I had all the plants in pots that needed homes. Then I had the plants that could use division and replanting in place and elsewhere. Then when I would walk by one of those spots, the plan for the replacement changed each time.

It was so hard to focus I made myself a word doc tables of 3 steps. Step 1: Get rid of the old, make room for new. what to remove/trash/give, where is it and why. Step 2: Newly purchased or plants in pots take priority. where to plant it, whats there now. Step 3: Transplants: Plant name; From Where/why; To Where/Why; whats there now

I could edit it and refer to it throughout the season and in late summer/fall it made it so much easier to just go through the list and do it. No thinking involved. This gardening thing gets bogged down in thinking so much. do you notice that?


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

Actually, wendy, my gardening doesn't 'get bogged down in thinking' nearly enough. Your solution seems like a good one - if I checked my plan more often I might be better at sticking with it.

Kt - won't there be a lot of collateral damage if you have that monster moved? And I do like the way it blocks the view of the space between the house and garage, although I suspect you've got (or are planning) a lovely shade garden or an inviting path there.


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

Claire,
I almost wet my pants reading that rant as I am affraid I would be doing life for what I have done to my Crape or Crap Myrtle. This Seuss like tree is an embarassing testement to my lack of pruning skills. Frankly I thought it grew into such an odd creature because I ignored it and never pruned it over many years. Now I am really confussed.
Wendy your use of excell and word to document life in your garden never ceases to amaze me.
dtd won't there be a lot of collateral damage if you have that monster moved? I think if I can get this done asap the surrounding damage should be minimal, but I called the tree guy and he said "he would stop by the next time he was in town which should be some time soon" Hmmm...almost sounds like I been put on the back burner list but I guess all I can do now is waite and see.


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

I'd never heard of Iseli nursery before, so OF COURSE I had to go looking around there. Luckily it's only a wholesale place.

But look what they have in their garden:


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

Runktrun,

I know this is a bit off-topic, but what is the name of the lovely rose you have growing onto your roof. Oh please tell me that it is a climbing New Dawn? (as I hold my breath...)

Debra


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RE: The Elephant In The Room

debra,
I planted the roses so long ago I don't exactly recall but I do believe one in a New Dawn. Are you growing some up on your house? If I were to do it again I would have planted them away from a door way as I really have to stay on top of pruning.


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