Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wrong plant, wrong place

Yes that’s right. This is the wrong plant for me…

And it is in the wrong place. Wouldn’t you agree?

For those of you keeping track it was just a month and a half ago that I wrote “So now the only plant that's left from when we bought the house* is the giant rhododendron under the living room window. Andrew would be happy to rip it out tomorrow. Me? I think it will be awhile before I'm willing...” I honestly felt that way when I wrote it. What changed? Well first of all it bloomed, and is pushing out a ton of new spring growth. The plants I’ve planted in the front garden have finally started to create a sense of place (however small it might be) and when this big guy blooms, well…it just doesn’t belong.

From any angle (or time of day, or weather condition)…

Then I read a post by my friend Peter, where he included this horrifying photo (among others, it’s really worth clicking through to read) of a house eating Rhody ...

One of the comments was from my blogging friend Heather who said “I'm not sure if this is better or worse than pruning them down so you can see out your windows...” I read her comment just moments before I went out to fill up the yard waste container with clippings trying to keep that thing from over taking the front window. I could barely reach the top of the Rhody and even after launching myself into the plant this is the best I could do.

Why am I fighting a plant I don’t even really like simply because it’s established? Yep right then and there I decided it was coming out. The only question is do I do it now our wait until fall (“they” say fall is the best time to plant…and it is mid May with a busy (not available for a lot of watering) summer ahead)? And what the heck do I plant in its place? It has to max out at about 5ft tall …

I’m dreaming maybe I can get a trunking Yucca rostrata, while that will eventually grow to taller than 5ft it will be slow and I can plant it at a corner. So what else? I would love to hear your suggestions!

(*not counting the ferns in this post!)

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

49 comments:

  1. I Knew it's days were numbered the first time I saw it,..doesn't fit into the planting ...sorry Rhody

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    1. Funny when we looked at the house back in 2005 I immediately slated both Rhodys for the chopping block. It's taken awhile eh?

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  2. AnonymousMay 21, 2013

    Yup, it's definitely time, Loree. I love the trunking Yucca rostrata idea. Ooh, maybe with some something soft and shrubby next to it.

    You could also consider giving your plant a new home (like your Camellia). I've transplanted Rhodies much bigger than this one.

    I can't wait to see what you do with the place!

    Bridget

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    1. You're a transplanting machine!

      I think I'll start taking donations for a trunking yucca (maybe a "tp jar" in the sidebar. I don't know if Andrew can be convinced that one is in the budget.

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  3. I hate our rhody, too. But it's on the north side of the house and very low on the priority list. Plus my kid loves to climb it. Can't wait to see what you replace yours with!

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    1. See they somehow manage to get under your skin and stick around. They're sneaky!!!

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  4. Maybe a buckthorn in a pot? Nah, too tall. I'm so glad you're giving it the boot!

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    1. Something could be tall on the far corner...

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  5. Love that shot of the rhody lurking outside the window, trying to look threatening. It's definitely the wrong plant for you, but I'm not sure what to suggest. There will be room for more than one thing when you yank it. How about a nice grouping of New Zealand flax?

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    1. I would LOVE that! However I'm trying to only plant them in ways/places where if (when) a bad winter hits I won't be too devastated by their death.

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  6. I like Bridget's idea of re homing your rhodie and am also excited for you to have all that space to plant other things. Trunking rostrata on the side, so many possibilities for under the window - Hooray!

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    1. Are you in the market for a hot-pink Rhody by chance?

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  7. AAARGH, I'd typed a long reply and Blogger ate it.

    What about a large agave, like Agave ovatifolia? It would look stunning and yet would not interfere with the view from your living room window.

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    1. You're a genius Gerhard! I'm not sure I would have thought of it but up against the house is a great place for an agave...now if I could only find a large one locally!

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    2. LOL, I don't think anybody has ever called me a genius before!

      Maybe Cistus has a larger ovatifolia? Or, when you're down here for the Garden Bloggers Fling, check at Ruth Bancroft Garden. At the last plant sale, they had a beautiful 15-gallon 'Frosty Blue' for $100, and regular ovatifolias in 5-gallon cans for $25.

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  8. Yep. Editing. I'm talking to myself about that too. It's turning into a jungle out there...

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    1. And yet you've been on a plant shopping spree the last few days...

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  9. Hooray for you! You'll feel so much better when it's ripped out. (We just tore ours out and I feel relieved.) And then you'll have room for the next great plant that catches your eye.

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    1. I read your post right after writing this one, great minds think alike!

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  10. I've got a Rhody coming out this week too but for opposite reasons-it grows leggy and hardly ever blooms. For years I've ignored it because it wasn't in the way and wasn't taking up space I needed for something better. Then when I was plant prospecting on Sunday I found a nice size Hydrangea paniculata 'Yuki Gessho'. Adios Rhody!

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    1. Buying the replacement plant first is my usual mode of operation, congrats on your new hydrangea!

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  11. How about one of the wackier dwarf mahonias, like Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress'? (Don't be turned off by the stupid cultivar name- it's a cool-looking plant.)

    Asclepias physocarpa tops out around 6 feet. It's a milkweed, but I always think of it as the hairy balls bush.

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    1. I love Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress' and have been meaning to get another. I'm a little concerned this area has too much sun for that guy though (a nearby M. gracilipes is getting burnt and I need to move it).

      Asclepias physocarpa would certainly fit into my little garden of curiosities, I like it!

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  12. Seems like a wonderful sort of problem to have, but choosing the right plant for a certain spot can be daunting. I'm enamored of Drimys lanceolata at the moment: wonderful dark branches with perfect, small lance-shaped leaves, evergreen, slow growing to 8', a tracery easy to see through, insignificant flowers.

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    1. Oh yes that's a good one! I've been flirting with them at the nurseries lately with nowhere to put one!

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  13. I'm with you on the Rhodie, my PO planted a lot of the things, now massive, they are a nightmare to deadhead. I would love to rip them out but on 2 acres at least they hold down the weeds and I never water or feed them. One thing I do like with big ones is the twisty branches that can be revealed by pruning out the middle of the bush. Yours definitely doesn't fit in your nice xeric landscape, nor in the space under your window. Planting things where they will outgrow their location is such a common mistake.

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    1. You can't tell from the photos (because it's heavy with blooms) but I did try to do some of that lower pruning to make it a more attractive blob, but as you point out there's only so much you can do when it's under a window...

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  14. Always on the hunt for another place to put in a new plant! I vote for ditching the rhody, and replacing with a mass of something general but beautiful, then adding something tall / spiky (a tree yucca?) on the edge of that away from your house, so it has room to develop and the window is easier to clean, service, etc.

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    1. Clean the window? That's crazy talk! (sad but true)...

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  15. It definitely doesn't fit now that it's blooming. I'd have to rip it out now and just live with a bare spot until fall. Have fun coming up with the perfect substitute.

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    1. I think that's what I'm going to do, or at least start hacking it back and filling the weekly yard waste pick-up. It will be pretty unattractive but there's a lot of plant material there. I predict it will be mostly gone by mid July (fingers crossed).

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  16. I'd say do it soon even though in theory it's not an ideal time to do so. But is that really the case, I'm just wondering as if you put the replacement in now it has a good many months to establish in its spot before winter sets in.

    Some unusual shrubs that don't mind or respond well to hard pruning when it goes over the desired height might also look good in that spot. Yucca sounds a good idea too.

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    1. I agree that there certainly is something to be said about allowing a new plant to get established before winter hits, that's why I've never really bought into the fall planting theory.

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  17. I've caught it too -- the burning fever to get rid of the unfavored plants. Also can't decide on replacements now or in the fall... I recently mentioned your camellia removal to someone who successfully got rid of their huge rhodies the same way.

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    1. I should have asked the guy who took the camellia to give me an update on how it did, I've often wondered.

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  18. Essa espécie é muito bonita ,mas no lugar errado, e sue jardim é lindo.

    http://eueminhasplantinhas.blogspot.com.br/

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    1. I agree Simone it does put on a beautiful show, but it's just not right for me anymore...

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  19. Always is a difficult decision to shovel prune something that's been established for a long time but agree it's time for it to go.

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    1. This morning I started worrying that removing it would expose our living room too much, it's been nice to have that little screen at the bottom of the window. Not that I'm second guessing the decision to get rid of it.

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  20. I feel bad for saying it, but I'm not a fan of Rhodies in general, so I say, Go For It!.

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    1. You obviously are not a "real" Pacific Northwesterner (is that even a word?).

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  21. Well, we who can't grow Rhododendrons tend to be impressed by them but I admit it doesn't fit with the rest of your garden (and that house-eating variety would be enough to scare anyone). If you can identify someone willing to adopt it, then I'd leave it until fall and pass it along. If not, I'd be inclined to yank it out now when you have the time and maybe put a pot in its place temporarily. I know you like Echiums - there's a blue-flowering dwarf Echium, E. handiense, that grows 4 feet tall.

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    1. A forest of Echiums under the window would make me so happy. I'm not familiar with E. handiense...gonna do some research!

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  22. The color is pretty but I agree, probably not the best plant for that spot. I'd say go for it! I'm sure once it's gone you'll be happy you did. Plus... then you can buy something to replace it right?

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    1. The shopping is definitely not a drawback!

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  23. I agree with others that the rhododendron does not fit from a design standpoint, particularly when it's in bloom. I would gently suggest an olearia or Fabiana imbricata f. violaceae as a replacement. For some reason, I want to see something soft and finely textured in that spot. One of the problems we have faced in our own garden when removing mature shrubs or trees is the loss of bird cover; our large rhododendron is teeming with small birds who seek shelter in the interior branches. For this reason alone, we are loathe to remove it. Something to consider when choosing a replacement.

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    1. Wow Richard you totally got me with those suggestions as I hadn't heard of either. The Fabiana imbricata has me particularly interested.

      Good point about the birds but I think we'll be okay. The neighbors cats like to lounge in their driveway just to the north of the Rhody. Because of this the birds tend to hang out in the Fatsia on the other end of the front of the house.

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  24. OH DANGER! This is SOOOOOOOOO EXCITING!!!!!!!! Okay, so first off you get rid of that sucker pronto, then I drive down to portland and we go rostrata shopping at cistus! And we also search for some nice specimens of hesperaloe parviflora loaded with high impact blooms, mexican feather grass, you catch my drift?! You go all out for an all out EPIC!

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  25. When I think about gardening in the Pacific northwest (and thinking about it is all I can do, as I have never been there) I imagine gardens full of needly evergreens and rhododendrons that we can not grow here in the land of high heat, humidity and mugginess. So while I can see your rhodie does not belong where it grows, I am at a loss as to what should be there. Think about over the summer.

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