Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The 4th and Forgotten Dimension in Gardening: Time

For as often as I think about time and plan for things in the future, I would hope that I would be more in tune with the passage of time. I am not. I overestimate time. Then I underestimate it to compensate. I get excited about this point in time and I make decisions based on right now. Then I see my mistakes and reverse course and try harder to think with an eye on the future which is a great way to sacrifice the present.

When I moved into this house about 8 years ago, much of the landscaping was already done for me. In this bed here:

the former owner had planted jasmine, azaleas and a juniper. I liked the jasmine and azaleas enough to keep them but I ripped out the juniper that had been struggling in the shade of this location and started with half of a clean slate into which I immediately dumped some white African daisies which looked great for about 6 weeks.

Back then, I was just beginning my infatuation with Japanese maples and all I really knew was that in my zone (9a) they prefer some morning sun with afternoon shade. Well, this particular spot gets filtered shade all morning thanks to a large fruitless mulberry tree and the rest of the day it resides in total shade. It seemed a perfect spot for a shade-loving tree. So I went to Home Depot and bought a twig-sized Crimson Queen and plopped it in the ground. After I ripped out the daisies, which didn't do well once the mulberry leaves had grown in, I also bought a couple 1-gallon sized hydrangeas because those do well in shade too, right? I remember standing back and admiring my handiwork once I had planted those hydrangeas. Here I was learning about shade and sun exposure and a little bit about design.

You wouldn’t know it from this picture taken from my iPhone today,

but that Crimson Queen now spends all day hiding behind those hydrangeas and it's growing quite nicely. If only you could see it to appreciate it!

What I failed to take into account when planning this bed was time. I knew that the Crimson Queen would grow slowly and that the hydrangeas would grow faster. But when I got home from the nursery that day the Crimson Queen was three times the height of those itsy bitsy hydrangeas and it just looked better having the Crimson Queen at the back of the bed. After all, the design books say tall things in back, medium height plants in the middle, and low-growing plants on the borders. It seemed like I was following that advice.

But I looked at the plants that day in 3D only. Had I considered the 4th dimension, I would have designed this bed differently.

Which leads me to this weekend when I hope to fix my mistake. I’m going to dig up that tree and put it where you can actually see it. Then I’m going to put at least one of the hydrangeas against the wall where it should have gone in the first place. I might try to give the other one away. Who knew they would get so large anyway?

Of course, I expect that three years from now I’ll be moving something else around because I will have failed to consider some other design flaw that will only reveal itself in time.

(Proof that the tree does exist)

No comments:

Post a Comment