No weep­ing over wil­low

If a plant is past its best, or has grown far too big, don’t be afraid to cut it out and move on

Gloucestershire Echo - - YOUR HOME -

WHILE the soil is still warm it’s a great time to put new plants in the ground, or dig up oth­ers to move them about. So take a good look at your gar­den and if changes are needed, act now. How­ever, some­times the best im­prove­ments can be made by re­mov­ing plants rather than adding more. I’ve been adding to my gar­den for the past five years. It’s been non-stop devel­op­ment, but over the last few weeks I’ve been look­ing at the struc­ture, the bare bones of the gar­den. On one perime­ter there is a medium-sized goat wil­low, Salix caprea. This is a com­mon enough plant but I did en­joy the beau­ti­ful shape of its crown. How­ever it’s adding lit­tle else to the gar­den. Ev­ery spring the ground be­neath was car­peted in grey­ish catkins and its leaves ap­pear to have some sort of dis­fig­ur­ing virus. I’ve spent the year look­ing at it, ap­pre­ci­at­ing the job it was do­ing in terms of cre­at­ing pri­vacy and back­ground, but all the time won­der­ing whether it should be for the chop. Gar­den-wise this is a big de­ci­sion but some­times you have to make bold choices. Most of us have fairly lim­ited spa­ces and when I con­sider the beau­ti­ful plants we can grow, to have a large plant that you are un­sure about seems a waste of space. Ask your­self – do I re­ally like it? Is it do­ing an im­por­tant job? So I got out the hand­saw, took off one of the lower branches, and saw straight away the space open­ing up and the light flood­ing in. I con­tin­ued over the week­end, saw­ing it limb by limb, and grad­u­ally a whole new sec­tion of blue sky opened above. Plants around it will fi­nally have room to breathe and there’s a whole new bor­der area which can be planted up with some choice spec­i­mens. It does leave me with a gap at the perime­ter where I will need some­thing ev­er­green for pri­vacy, but I don’t want any­thing that will block out all that light again. The space is fairly near to the house so I’d like some­thing quite spe­cial. I’m think­ing about Eu­cryphia, a won­der­ful ev­er­green tree from the south­ern hemi­sphere which is smoth­ered in large white blos­soms to­wards the end of sum­mer, which makes it un­usual and gar­den-wor­thy. Eu­cryphias grow quite tall so aren’t suit­able for most small gar­dens, but the likes of ‘Rostrevor’ are fairly colum­nar in shape so will be more slim­line than the wil­low. An­other op­tion could be an el­e­gant bam­boo, one that will clump gen­tly and not

send out run­ners across the gar­den. So I’m think­ing about Ti­betan na­tive, Tham­no­cala­mus ‘Kew Beauty’ which has sub­tle blue-grey canes, del­i­cate leaves, and grows to a height of around 13ft, so won’t im­pose upon its neigh­bours. Be­fore all that though, my next job will be the re­moval of all the branches and leaves from the Salix caprea. As men­tioned, the leaves look rather un­healthy so I’m re­luc­tant to com­post these. So I’ll store them and some of the twigs for some sea­sonal bon­fires for Halloween at the end of the month.

Diar­muid’s wil­low is taken down, branch by branch

The spring­time catkins of the Salix caprea

Eu­cryphia - a fresh idea

Tham­no­cala­mus ‘Kew Beauty’ bam­boo, above, may re­place the wil­low

A hand­saw can trim small branches

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