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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.


      Showing posts with label red twig dogwood. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label red twig dogwood. Show all posts

      Thursday, May 26, 2011

      Learn from my mistakes...please!

      Ok, they weren't all my mistakes. But the red twig dogwood was. It looked great year round. It thrived. But it was a bully and before long there was no root space left in the container for anything else. And while a mass of spreading red twig dogwood might be a good thing in Central Park, in a container overlooking said park it is not necessarily welcome. What a root mass! After a half hour of digging, chopping, sawing, and rocking, the heart of the red twig lost its fight.


      That was just the beginning. The arborvitae hedge had outgrown its containers as well. This was NOT my mistake, since the 15' trees predated my arrival as gardener more than 10 years ago. I tried to convince my clients to replace them with a slower growing (and more beautiful) species, but alas, they wanted more arborvitae. I tell myself that when this hedge needs replacing I will be long gone.

      We started by limbing the trees and sawing off most of the main truck, leaving enough to act as a lever. Digging out the primary root ball was difficult. If we hadn't had to preserve the custom made stainless steel containers, we could have worked more quickly.

      How to describe the dull thud of spade blade against unyielding root mass? Once the trees were removed, we thought it would be easy to remove the old soil. But no. There was no old soil. Instead there was a thick and intricate mat of arborvitae root.


      Because our prying ability was limited (remember, we had to preserve the containers) we were reduced to sawing and chopping, sawing and chopping, removing pieces of iron-hard root mass, bit by bit. It took longer than getting the trees out, but after several hours we were triumphant. Planting the new trees in fresh soil was a piece of cake.


      Many thanks to Mimi and Mark for their focused and strong work.

      In containers, as in traditional gardens, you always need to consider the ultimate size of your plants, especially with woodies. Resist temptation to make the garden look established right from the start...unless your clients demand otherwise. And promise me you'll never, EVER, plant a red twig in a container!

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