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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

It seems once I got started cutting back hopelessly overgrown and out of place plants, an addictive desire to chop has taken hold on me...  I have to start somewhere in spring to build those gardening muscles back up, anyhow.   I meant to trim my gigantic Silverberry, Elaeagnus ebbingei, left, but it is overgrowing its neighboring Aronia plant, which has fantastically healthful berries,  on the right, and had to be cut back drastically last fall just to reach the berries-

It is also running over the delightful rose Betty Boop on the other side, which has white petals edged in rose that fade to cream petals aged in peach.   I had to face the facts, horrendous trimming will have to keep happening every year as long as it is there.  So I got out my loppers and folding saw again and spent a couple of hours lopping off branches and a couple more sawing through the bark and breaking off the ones over 1 1/2 inches that were too big for the lopper.  Then I decided the ducklings were getting totally carried away with the newspapers and chipped the branches so I would have wood chips to put in the ducks' box.   I also raised the ducks' water with 2 bowls so they couldn't keep flooding the box.  Now the spilled water is going into the bowls instead.

I decided this more substantial trunk deserves having my husband assist with the chain saw for final removal.  Still a few branches left to cut off first.
Aronia are free and clear.  They will thank me with berries.  Silver chaos of shorn branches and leaves on the ground.  Since they are thorny they are good candidates for my shelter program- instead of chipping all the branches I will pile some up somewhere I may want to smother some weeds, and create a brush shelter for little critters to escape from the cats.  Before cats I used to see 3 kinds of lizards in my yard- Sceloporus (Fence or Spiny Lizards), Elgaria (Alligator Lizards, fierce and large), and Eumeces (Skinks, long, skinny, shiny and smooth), in addition to the occasional salamander and lots of garter snakes, which were becoming scarce but have been making a comeback since my brush shelter program was implemented.  Putting tarps on the ground or mulching with newspapers also helps provide shelter for the garter snakes.

 It was sad to chop down the Silverberry since I do actually have lots of room and the Silverberry has lovely evergreen leaves with silvery undersides.  Its main draw is the wonderful fragrance that wafts from it in fall.  But you should have seen the disaster after a really heavy snowfall bowed all the unpruned branches to the ground.   Fortunately in addition to the silvery form I also have E. ebbingei variegata, with yellow edges to the leaves and a much reduced size and vigor, to continue to perfume the air.  Here it is behind and contrasting well with Berberis thunbergii, with also a weeping Mulberry,  and low Bird's Nest Spruce peeping out above the feathery variegated Phalaris grass in front, which can be invasive but in the right place will defeat a lot of those pesky weeds and make a nice full ground cover.  The Euphorbia wulfenii on the right has browned out from it's early spring chartreuse.

So, I have to make up for one of many garden "Oops!" when I chose plants in a new locale, failing to research the full mature size of the plant before picking a location.  Plants look so cute in the nursery.


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