Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Plants In Containers Do Not Properly Represent Their Mature Size!"

Do you remember the phrase on your side view mirrors:  "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear?"

Bruce MacDowell, owner of Stonegate does amazing
stonework, and this is an example at the nursery
 with a weeping Hemlock and Japanese Maple by
a waterfall.  ©2013 BDG
Well, with plants it would be appropriate to say, "plants in your garden will be larger than the plant tag or nursery promised." How often have you bought a cute little specimen evergreen to find it overwhelming the space in several years.  Those wonderful 2' Weeping Japanese Maples want to be big broad beasts over time and their beauty only increases with their size, but if you want to place it on the edge of your front walk or driveway, be prepared to move it in short order.

Tags on plants in retail nurseries are great guides, but often the sizes they are referring to are sizes in five or ten years.  Recently I heard a story where a contractor told a customer she would love the plant he was installing in five years, but what he didn't tell her was that she would hate it in ten years as the plant would outgrow the space requiring constant pruning and decreased flowering.

A 5' specimen of a "Nana Gracilis'
 dwarf Hinoki Cypress.  Very old, very
expensive and a big old root
ball. ©2013 BDG
Maybe I wasn't paying attention before, but it seems as though the new marketing trend on tags is to provide a plant size in five to ten years.  Well that's great, but how about twenty or thirty years.  Do growers expect people will tire of their plants and change them out in ten years... maybe they're right.  I know that I am always looking to add new plants and try out cool new introductions.

When designing with plants, especially on foundations or in tight places, I always spend the effort to try and choose the right plant.  One of the best resources for understanding plants and their true sizes is the Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, by Michael Dirr.  When you spend the effort to specify and plant the right plant for a given location, less work is needed to keep it and other plants to their design intent.

A favorite nursery of mine in Lincoln, Stonegate Gardens Nursery, has  excellent large specimens of so many plants.  Often people don't get a chance to see some of these plants in their glory, let alone be able to purchase and plant them.  The images are of a few interesting finds last we during a visit.

Pinus parviflora 'Bergmanii' - A dwarf Japanese White Pine with
multiple leaders and a broad, open form.  This one is 6' tall and wide.
Wonderful specimen with some space.  ©2013 BDG
Tsuga canadensis 'Pendula' - Weeping Hemlock.  This beautiful specimen
is 5' tall and wide.  It can be pruned to accentuate the layered
branching.  Great by a terrace or over a wall.
Cercidiphyllum japonicum 'Pendula' - Weeping Katsura.  This slow
grower is already 8-10' tall and wide and will double in size.
Katsura's heart shaped leaves go through many color changes
and have a great apricot fall color.  ©2013 BDG
Seven Son Flower- Heptacodium miconoides
I have never liked this plant as it can have
such an awkward form, but this beautiful
10' specimen may just change my mind.
Great late summer/fall flowers and cool seed
heads.  ©2013 BDG

1 comment:

  1. Caveat Emptor! Ignorance is no excuse (although a landscaper should know and not misguide his/her client). I too love Stonegate in Lincoln. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all nurseries were as wonderful as Stonegate?