Monday, January 21, 2013

My Garden of Misfit Plants

You've heard of the Island of Misfit Toys right? Well I've realized my garden has become the Garden of Misfit Plants, or maybe I should say misshapen plants. I don’t know exactly how it happened; I don’t intentionally buy the deformed plant. I started thinking about this after purchasing the Blue Atlas Cedar I mentioned last week.

See it has a definite crook to its trunk. It’s not a deal breaker, otherwise I wouldn't have bought it, but I guess when planting I need to stake it in such a manner that it might straighten out over time.

Here’s a pretty extreme example, my Poncirus trifoliata. Just look at that curve!
When I bought it several years ago I didn’t realize it had essentially been topped, I just thought it was a great plant at a great price. The transaction was a little awkward at the counter and I’ve always wondered if they were just happy to unload a damaged plant on a clueless customer. Either way I try not to shop there anymore (for several reasons), and the plant is trying to grow out of its unfortunate disfigurement.

Here’s one I purchased realizing full well it had issues. This Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Sentinel’ was trained as a standard, but it didn't quite live up their expectations. When I found it there were definite signs of scoliosis but I liked it anyway. I hope it isn’t doomed to breaking someday when the weight of a snow, or ice, load becomes too much for it.

Another of my Arctostaphylos, A. densiflora ‘Harmony’ is supposed to grow 5ft high by 6ft wide. Looks like it will make the 6ft wide no problem, but the 5ft high?

I bought the 'Harmony' with a slight tilt to it, hoping it would grow up to have graceful lines like this plant nearby…

Instead it looks like a blob! What a waste of a lovely plant, I need to get in there and do a little judicious pruning and training.

Here’s one that’s just a little odd, this Cotinus ‘Royal Purple' has stayed virtually the same little miniature shrub since I planted it almost 3 years ago (that’s it in the center with no leaves).

Since this plant has such a reputation for being rangy it’s odd to see one stay so compact. I've been told it’s because it likes a lot of water and I’m pretty stingy out here in the front garden in the summer. I've planted a couple of other plants nearby for height and made my peace with this one staying just a short dark foliage accent.

Next up is one of my Callistemon ‘Woodlander's Hardy Red’ it was this wee little stick when I bought it (for the amazing price of $1.98)…

At the time I thought it had a strong leader, but this is what the base looks like now.

Just a few inches tall and then it splays outward in five different directions.

It’s a lovely little plant but I just wish was taller before it split all willy-nilly!

Here's it's sister $1.98 Callistemon I bought a year later. It's looking much better!

Finally we finish with a gift plant that simply reinforces my theory that I attract misshapen plants...a lovely ginkgo that refuses to grow upright but rather takes off at a jaunty angle. This photo is from 2011 when it was given to me.

Here it is last summer, I tried to take a photo of it now to share but without its leaves it was a little hard to see.

So there you have it, my collection of happy misfits.

23 comments:

  1. They're not misfit or deformed, rather 'unique' :) seriously though some of them are just in a awkward stage and hopefully they will sort themselves out eventually, just takes a few years sometimes and patience helps. But staking and training certainly does hasten the process.

    Same experience here with all but one of our Ginkgos, they tend to go in different directions and needs constant staking and training. The one that is growing upright was a cheat, we bought it as a standard already, looking like a lollipop topiary :)

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    1. Oh that doesn't sound like a cheat...but a rather smart move!

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  2. I have always been impressed with your plant collection and your organization but you have superseded this with your new blog layout. Superb. I think I need help!

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    1. Thank you so much Jenny...and I think you're being too hard on yourself, I like the layout of your blog! The background color is perfect in that it doesn't compete with your photos but rather allows them to shine. So many blogs out there are busy busy busy and it's a rather difficult thing to shut out all the noise to read the post.

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  3. I like the special shapes of the plants in your collection and it makes for more interest in the garden. Something to show when you give tours too.

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    1. Tours? Yikes...do you know something I don't? (I really suck at giving tours).

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  4. You know that Jodie Foster quote -- “Normal is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.” Your plants are just trying to be not normal. I love them, but especially that sprawling Callistemon.

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    1. Perfect! Love that quote (and Jody Foster), thank you Alison.

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  5. I happen to have a soft spot for misfit plants too. They need a good home. It's like those sad puppy commercials, I just want to love them!!!!

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    1. I have to leave the room if a sad puppy commercial comes on.

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  6. I also seem to always come home with a plant, only to realize it's totally lopsided...I like to think of it as "character" ;-)

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    1. Ya! Who wants perfection anyway, that's boring (right up there with "normal").

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  7. If you saw my Arctostaphylos Harmony you'd think yours was the most beautiful manzanita ever. Mine just sits there, moaning, "Take me back home, please."
    You can straighten weird trunks with heavy bonsai wire. Don't try too much the first time, just a little, then the next year do more, etc. The thing about wire-trained trees and shrubs is that once you do this, you don't have to do anything else in the garden, because people will see this and think there's some really serious gardening going on.

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    1. So you're advocating thinking/acting for the long term? (a little bit this year, a little more the next). This could be a challenge for me, I'm rather "live for the moment"...

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  8. Life would be boring with perfect plants. It's quirky plants that give your garden character. I guess it's no different with humans :-).

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  9. Most of my favorite people are a little twisted. Your plants aren't misfits, just growers with special needs.

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    1. Twisted...excellent word choice!

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  10. Lol, very tim burton, i love it! :)

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    1. Now there's a compliment! Thank you.

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  11. You crack me up. I'm going to have nightmares now about those crazy lines of yours. OMG. Wow. I might actually dream about plants again. Thank you!

    This all coming from the woman who was upset when from her bed this morning she could see two willow branches outside blocking her "view" and was so upset by them she vowed to go out to whack them. Oh yes, to be part Sicilian...

    Let me know if you want me to whack something for you. Or we could whack together. Sometimes it's best to whack in groups.

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    1. So did you go outside and whack them?

      (I'm not even going to comment on "group whacking"...that's a subject for an entirely different blog...)

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  12. No one will ever accuse you of boring regularity.

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