Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gardening OOPS

When I came home from vacation in August I realized something was amiss.  In all honesty I think I knew before then but denial is a wonderful thing.  After a spell away though there was no denying it, I immediately thought - oh GOOPS.

Thank you Joene for adding a new word to my vocabulary.

On the first of every month Joene shares with the blogging world a Gardening Oops (aka GOOPS).  Moments in the garden where something didn't quite work out the way it was planned.  It's a way to inform other gardeners and share a bit of your misery.

Back in the spring I discovered that my new flower bed had a low spot that collected water.  Rather than try and fix this problem I decided to work with it.  Building up the bed on either side and allowing water to flow right into this area.

The area left of the old stump sits slightly lower than the rest of the bed. 
Then I planted with water loving shrubs and perennials.  Goatsbeard, Siberian Iris, Ligularia and a Red Osier Dogwood.

These bare stems were red in spring leading me to
believe this was a Red Osier Dogwood
Dogwoods are common here, growing in ditches and fields.  Rather than purchase a plant at a nursery I decided it would be quite easy to relocate one.  So I found a likely specimen, dug it up and brought it home.

I have been quite pleased with the result.  Despite a dry summer this plant took to the spot like glue and has been growing a mile a minute over the past 3 months.  I was so excited by how well it was doing that I completely disregarded the fact that dogwoods don't grow in an upright vase shape, or that their leaves are slim and silvery.

Crowded by flowers the shape is hard to see
but it is distinctly tall and vaselike
It wasn't until I had gone away and come home again with a fresh set of eyes that I finally understood the mistake I had made.  OOPS.  This was no dogwood, it's a willow.  I guess the moral of the story is know what you're digging out of the ditch before you put it in your garden.

I have nothing against willows and this one is not without its charms.  The shape is lovely and the long whippy branches wave beautifully in the wind.  However, there are over a hundred varieties of willow native to North America and I have no clue which one this is.  Or how large it will eventually grow.  When this shrub was planted in spring it was approximately one foot tall.  Now, after one season, this plant is standing at close to 5 feet tall.  My fear is it will become a massive shrub, quickly taking out any perennials in its path.

These rudbeckia are tough but I'm betting the willow is tougher.
Other issues have developed as well.  Crowded conditions in its present location are causing rust spots.   As well,  I suspect aphids have made a home here as swarms of wasps cover this plant most days.  I believe the wasps are sipping the honeydew created by the aphids as the wasps can be found drunkenly lolling around on the ground beneath the shrub.

Wandering dazed in the mulch under the willow
So now I'm faced with a choice.  Do I leave this shrub, knowing it will likely grow much larger?  I can always move a few perennials and prune the willow to try and keep it manageable.  Or, do I find it a new home and go looking for the dogwood I had originally planned on?

30 comments:

  1. Take it out I say. Although, red osier can get quite large too you know and a bit rough looking after a few years. Plants USDA.gov state Red osier
    dogwood is a woody deciduous shrub generally 1.4-6
    m (4.6-20 ft) tall.

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    1. After doing some research on what type of willow it might be I think I agree. It wouldn't be such a problem if there weren't two large trees already in this bed. I checked the local native nursery regarding the dogwood as I've never seen them more than a few feet tall and it confirmed they don't grow past 6 feet tall (generally around 4 feet) I wonder if there are different kinds of red dogwood?

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  2. I think I would relocate it and find something of a more managable size, you have lots of other places/room for large trees and shrubs, moral = check when plants are in leaf then go back when suitable to move, Frances

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    1. Frances, you're very right. There's a low spot right by the road that I had thought would be a great 'wet' garden. This might be just the plant to get that started.

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  3. I would take it out while it is still a size that is manageable. I would put a redtwig dogwood in, though I just removed one (it was dead). We have a problem with them getting leafspot, so this time of year they are not very attractive. I love them in the winter, love the red stems.

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    1. Janet, it was those red stems that really steered me toward the dogwood. They add so much interest to the garden. I think I'm going to head out this weekend and see if I can't find a dogwood and mark it to dig out next spring.

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  4. Hi Marguerite: We are back from Victoria,and my fall gardening is too far behind to catch up..I'd rather go for walks and enjoy the gorgeous fall colors..If I were to vote, I'd dig out the willow also..I don't know what size you'd like to limit a new bush to but they always seem to outdo themselves..I have 3 dwarf burning bushes out front and they are quite large..we are always cutting off branches on our varigated dogwood out back too and our forsythia..some bushes have "no manners"..perhaps more perennials instead? (or a bird bath?) Whatever you decide it will be lovely I'm sure..happy gardening Lannie

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    1. Hi Lannie! glad to hear you're back safe and sound and enjoying a nice fall. I know what you mean about 'no manners' and I think the willow definitely will fall into that category. It's gotta go!

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  5. How I laughed at this Oops!! There is nothing like the eager excitement of planting something, and the sinking disillusion as it turns into a completely different plant! Ha.

    I would take it out. If it would remain small, it might be interesting and it has a funny story to go with it. But I fear it is overtaking the space you want, it will get rambunctious with all that water.

    I grow red osier dogwood 'Isanti' which is a smaller version. Lovely, very red twigs. Mine are about 5 feet high, and very full. They are not as tall and unruly as most red twig dogwoods, but are still large shrubs.

    I'm glad to see another gardener admit her Oops this month : )

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    1. Hi Laurrie, your oops are always so interesting for me, glad I got to join in (though sorry I had to mess up big time to do it!) I had similar thoughts, if that willow can grow that big in a dry year..goodness when it gets some real water this could get out of control. I'll look up Isanti and see if it fits. I really did like the thought of those red twigs.

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  6. Hi Marguerite, I agree with the others- take the willow out and maybe find a new home for it. I also have some reservations about the common dogwood as well. They get quite big and their branches sprawl outward. You may find that it crowds out the perennials. I have to ruthlessly trim mine back. Laurrie's recommendation sounds like a good alternative.

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    1. Hi Jennifer, the more I think about it the more I'm wondering if the dogwood was a good idea. At first there seemed like so much space but then one another another gets added. I still really love the look of the dogwood but I have some hard decisions to make.

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  7. Oh my goodness Marguerite girl !
    I like the idea of an "OPPS!" meme ... that is fun and a lot of good information can be passed along as well.
    I vote for taking it out and getting what you really wanted in there .. i think this one would be a lot of work that you don't need with so many other things on the go that you have.
    In any case good luck and I will be curious to see what you do with it girl ! LOL
    Joy

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    1. Having fun with our mistakes - it is a great idea isn't it? I first saw this on Laurrie's blog, she's always got something interesting she's willing to share. I'm finding the more I garden here the more mistakes I make so you might see this featured again in the future.

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  8. Wonderful photographs, I like such views. I am greeting

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  9. I make so many GOOPS they could be a separate blog! I'd take out the willow. It's going to get huge and dominate the bed. I love that you worked with your low spot instead of trying to fix it. :o)

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    1. Hopefully this works out Tammy. I have some concern this area will ice up and cause some of the plants damage but never know unless you try.

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  10. I don't know why I haven't participated in this meme before; heaven knows I make enough GOOPS to fill a post every week:) I'm glad to see that others vote to take this plant out and relocate it, if you really want to keep it. I'm not familiar with willows like these, but it reminds me of the mulberry trees that seem to sprout up overnight around our farm. I'm wary of anything that grows that fast!

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    1. Rose, you said it. The fact this grew so fast in such a dry year makes me wary.

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  11. I can see the consensus is to take the willow out. I agree, especially since willows *love* the wet -- so this one is likely to reach its maximum size. Think how much happier you'll be in a few years when you're enjoying your well-behaved dogwood instead of battling a monster willow! -Jean

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    1. Great point, between the compost I dumped in this bed and the wet this plant must be in heaven. I've got an idea where it can go so next spring the move will be on.

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  12. I love the GOOPS concept, I am sure I will be able to contribute regularly... Pity about the willow, right plant wrong place methinks. I am still worrying about my three corkscrew willows, currently beautiful but will they just take over?! Of course, you could always try pollarding the willow each year once you have a clear stem of a reasonable height. It might change what you grow around it, but it would look beautiful and you could use the harvested willow wands for plant supports etc. Just a thought...

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    1. Janet, that was something I was considering. I know you can cut willows right back to the ground annually so it's not like a plant that is tricky to prune. It has the possibility of being quite nice. At the same time though I wonder if it would be another chore that I don't really need in an already large garden.

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  13. I agree, take out the willow! The wonderful thing about a willow is that they are easy to transplant and grow quickly so I'm sure you'll be able to find the perfect spot to plant it and let it do it's thing!

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    1. Debbie, we have a low spot in our front yard that collects water as well and I've always thought a type of 'wet' garden would work well there. This might be the time to try that.

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  14. Five years ago I let a willow grow on the north side of one of my garden beds. It is now over twenty five feet tall and its canopy is at least ten feet wide. I grow primulas, hosta, and other shade lovers beneath and next to it. I trim back the odd branch. The willow helps blend the garden into the surrounding forest.
    I say rip that willow out. Rudbeckies like the sun.

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    1. Thank you Melanie. This is just what I needed to put me over the edge. That willow has to go.

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  15. The old stump is a lovely central object to put other plants. Then it looks like an old man telling stories to the younger ones about heaven and kingdom of plants!!

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    1. Thank you for that lovely image. There are two old stumps in this bed and I have left them as they are because I find them so visually interesting. So glad to see others like them as well.

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