Saturday, January 11, 2014

A winter view, re-evaluated

Last week I extolled the virtues of Carex buchananii, a mounding brown grass that's a real plus in my winter garden. Continuing the theme of critical garden evaluation, this week I'm decrying the ugliness of two other mounds of brown in my winter view.

These two Potentilla are long-time residents of the garden, planted in 2008. On the left is P. fruticosa 'Sunset Red' and on the right is P. fruticosa 'McKay's White'. (In between is an Abutilon that succumbed to our December cold blast. What a forlorn trio!)


'Sunset Red' long ago reverted to a plain yellow flower, probably because it now gets less sun than it would like. It's nice enough in summer, but not what I bought it for.

'McKay's White' is delightful for three or four months of the year when it's covered with tiny simple white blossoms.


But look at it now (and I do every day) - it's not doing anything for the garden. It takes up precious space at the front of the border when it's not even green, let alone not blooming.

I've always liked the finely cut gray-green leaves and slightly tough look of Potentilla foliage. When I planted these two I was under the impression that they were semi-evergreen in our climate, but that hasn't been the case for mine, even in mild winters.
For several years, the Mulch Man has lobbied for my taking them out and I've resisted. This year, for the sake of our winter view, I've reluctantly come to agree with him: Those two brown blobs have got to go.

Having made the difficult decision to remove them, the fun comes in deciding what I'll find to take their places - stay tuned for exciting spring developments!

22 comments:

  1. I think you're right to take them out, especially considering one of them has reverted. They're taking up valuable real estate that could be used for some much more interesting plants. I'd be tempted to wait and see if the Abutilon shows any signs of life in the spring. Do you already know what you'll be planting in their place?

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    1. No idea yet, Alison. I'm looking forward to discovering the perfect plant(s)!

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  2. I've never been a fan of the shrubby Potentillas. Once they're gone you've got prime real estate for something grand. So many possibilities, what will you choose? I love the eucalyptus foliage on the right. Looks like our cold weather didn't bother it a bit. I agree with Alison about waiting on your Abutilon. I bet it is hardy down there. :)

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    1. So far, that euc is unfazed by any cold. I'll see about the abutilons, and I certainly hold out hope. If they don't survive, well, it's been nice!

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  3. Can I give a third on the Abutilon? Our two look pathetic right now but they are still alive and will make a good comeback in spring (or else!).
    Sorry about the brown blobs but I'm with the Mulch Man.. it has to look decent in the winter.
    Michelle

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    1. The Mulch Man is a better editor than am I...

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  4. I think you're doing the right thing, Jane. I know I should be more of a fan of the tough Potentillas, but sadly I'm not. I can see with it being orange flowered that it may have earned its keep, but after reverting back to yellow... naah! Go for it, and have fun with the selection process. What kind of Eucalyptus is that? I love the leaves, and I have a sad feeling that the Blast took care of my Acacia dealbata for good. It looks awful... :(

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    1. My euc is E. pauciflora ssp. debeuzevilli or Jounama Snow Gum - from Cistus!

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  5. Bye bye Potentillas! I've never regretted anything I've removed for this reason. In fact just this morning I was thinking about how much I have NOT missed the hydrangea. Can't wait to see what you come up with!

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    1. Thanks for the words of wisdom from a bold editor!

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  6. Have you ever tried cutting them hard, almost to the ground like a perennial? That would remove the brown hairball for winter. That seems to be the recommendation for them to keep their small rounded habit over time.

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    1. "Hairball" - I love that. The ongoing problem is their position at the front of the bed where you can see I need something green in winter. I just don't think I love them enough to keep them any longer.

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  7. Ooooo....such possibilities! Can't wait to see your replacement gems! I too have Abutilons that seemingly perished, I guess I should wait it out and see if there's life down there....

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    1. Let's compare abutilon notes along about May, Tamara!

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  8. You're doing the right thing. If a plant isn't making you happy, you have to get rid of it - be ruthless!

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    1. Thanks for the unequivocal support, Jason!

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  9. Ooh, I can't wait to see what you're planning to replace them with. That's a primo location, next to that gorgeous eucalyptus!

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    1. It's fun contemplating the replacement options!

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  10. Absolutely...I agree with the above...if it makes you unhappy, you must change it! It makes me wonder, however (since you enjoy the brown Carex), is it the color...or the lack of structure that really makes it disagreeable? Can't wait to see what you decide on :-)

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    1. I think it's the "hairball" look in winter that I mind. The carex has a pleasing structure - the potentillas, not so much.

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  11. I have trouble jetisoning plants too, but there comes a time...and the lure of the new can be irresistible.

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