My selection criteria for plants and husbands are similar: (1) low maintenance (2) good-looking (3) robust (4) not too expensive. I should probably clarify that I only have, or have ever had, one husband and that is probably because he fulfills my selection criteria exactly.
But back to plants. Many of the plants in our garden were planted my my in-laws, and I don’t know what they are called or how they are best cared for and maintained. However, these plants have managed to survive and thrive, despite the neglect.
Last week one of my neighbors, Edith, lent me Marjorie Harris’ book, Favorite Flowering Shrubs. The book features short chapters about each of her favorite shrubs, with lots of pictures, pruning and care tips. I was very surprised to recognize many of the plants in the book, and quite delighted to finally learn their names. No surprise, most of Marjorie’s favorites are low maintenance varieties, although she doesn’t explicitly state that. Here are a few notes from her book about plants in my yard.
Japanese Maple (Acer palmatrum). Mine is a weeping type, so no pruning is needed. The plant needs to stay moist and requires mulching. I have a number of other self-seeded Japanese Maples throughout the yard and when it gets cool, I want to dig them up and put them in better locations.
Chinese Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa Chinensis). This one is right in the middle of the front yard. Although I was initially disappointed that it wasn’t a pink dogwood, I have grown to love it. It should not be pruned. Needs moisture. *LOW MAINTENANCE*.
Rockspray cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis). This is the lovely plant with the red berries that I put in vases in the winter. This plant requires very little pruning other than to take out branches and maintain shape. *LOW MAINTENANCE*.
Mountain lauryl (Kalmia latifolia). These are the unusual pink flowers in the front. Remove the faded flowers. They need lots of moisture and can’t stand a lot of competition in the immediate area. Responds well to pruning, but seldom needs it. Prune after flowering.
Hydrangeas. These need to be mulched. They need to be cut back to a point just above the base of the previous years growth after flowering. Cut the stems just above the round pair of leaves below the flower heads. Every year take out 1/3 of the old branches. Mine is doing spectacularly this year (see photo below).
Holly barberry, oregon grape. (Mahonia aquifolium). Red stems and holly-like flowers. I actually hate this plant, and so of course it seems to be coming up everywhere. Extremely low maintenance. Figures.
Viburnum. I have a lot of these in the front and in the back. No regular pruning is necessary. Cut the oldest stems at the base. Flowers bloom on previous seasons growth. *LOW MAINTENANCE*.