The Biggest Mistake with
selecting trees and shrubs
following is excerpted from a book that was
selected winner of the 1997 Herald Award for
creativity in garden communications, sponsored by
the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA).
What is the Biggest
Mistake with selecting trees and shrubs? It is, of
course, the bigness mistake - not taking into
account how big trees and shrubs will get. Those
puny little sticks you can pick up, pot and all,
at the nursery can end up being over 100 feet tall
and 60 feet across. Yes, they'll take years to get
there (and the waiting part can get frustrating),
but unless you constantly fight to keep them from
reaching their natural size, in time they will.
It's a pain in the pruners to have to cut back a
foundation bush or driveway tree every single year
to keep it from taking over - why add an extra
chore to your life when you can, with just a
little forethought, avoid it?
So, please, be sure
to give them the elbow room they'll need to grow.
One gardener recommends deciding what trees and
shrubs you want at an arboretum or botanical
garden - where you'll (Army recruitment music,
please) see all that they can be.
a Plant What It Needs
Well, if too big a
plant is Potential Problem #1, the opposite - too
little a plant - is #2. What I mean by this is
that if you put a tree or shrub in an
inappropriate location, it may never reach its
healthy, natural size. (It may even die.)
location, location!' is the cry of the forlorn
tree or shrub, not just the storefront business
owner. So if your new landscape plant doesn't like
wet, don't give it wet. If it's unhappy with dry,
just say no to dry.
speaking of location, don't plant something that's
inappropriate for your climate. Your area's
too-hot winters or too-wet summers will do a plant
in - if not in the first year then the second year
or third year - some year. I hope it doesn't sound
as if I'm making too much of a stink about all
this. Actually, growing trees and shrubs is easy.
They're non-fussy plants that basically take care
of themselves - when you take the sensible
precaution of putting the right one in the right
spot. So do plan for these plants. It's worth it.
Pat Stone is
editor and publisher of the quarterly magazine,
GreenPrints, 'The Weeders Di-gest.' Stone was
Garden Editor at Mother Earth News for 12 years.
He lives in Fairview, North Carolina. This article
is excerpted from his book, REAL GARDENERS' TRUE CONFESSIONS
, published in 1996 by Storey