Monday, July 27, 2015

The Contrarian

For late July, it's been pleasant. We've had cool nights in the high 50s! Several days have been sunny and comfortable and dry. Very nice weather for summer.

Late July means the bottlebrush buckeyes (Aesculus parviflora) open their rocket blooms.

The show is amazing, butterflies love the spikes, and the light always catches the bottlebrushes and illuminates them beautifully.

I love the way this hedge looks. It is lush and big enough now to make a definitive boundary between my garden and the meadow beyond.

But every year I go nuts about the one lone bottlebrush shrub that is not like the others. There was a mislabeled plant among the batch of A. parviflora that I got mail order in 2007. It looked like the others as a baby plant, but once they all started growing, it was clear that one was different.

It's that lighter one second from the left -- it won't bloom for another two weeks, it is a different leaf color, and the form is different. The darker green shrub to its left is about to bloom and the others flanking it on the right are already in bloom, but they are all the same species plants and all open up their flowers about the same time. The middle one is very different.

It's still Aesculus parviflora, but it is a named cultivar that is known for its larger size, and two week later bloom period. And apparently the foliage color is not the deep dark green of the species. And it has a droopier habit.

I've written about this before, every year in fact. Because every year it gets more obvious.

Jim likes it. It's the contrarian in him that enjoys the way one lone individual can fight the masses. Politically this hedge pleases him. Horticulturally it drives me batty.

He's willing to help me take the offending shrub out -- we could cut it down and let the species plants on either side continue to sucker and fill in the gap, which might happen quickly now that the hedge is mature. But he thinks we should leave it as is.

I've gone back to photos of my original planting to see if it was obvious when I put this hedge in that one plant was different. But they all looked alike in the beginning.

The circled one is the bad boy. I guess it showed its droopier habit even then, but who could really tell?  They all looked like leafy blobs at that stage.

It would be sort of drastic to take out that big shrub at this point. I'm trying to adopt Jim's untroubled view that it gives the hedge personality, it's a quirky bit of garden mishap, it celebrates diversity, and we should enjoy the contrarian disruption to the uniform line of the hedge.

Can I accept that?


  1. Kind of like the middle child...a little quirky, but loved just the same.

    1. Quirky but loved. . . or odd and annoying.