Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Juggling Trees and Shrubs -- Part One

I tried to learn to juggle when I was younger, but always ended up dropping things if I tried juggling more than two things at once. Three at once --- nope, not gonna happen. I just don't have the agility or dexterity for it. Some days, I'm doing well if I can just walk in a straight line, and I don't drink!

Lately, I've been juggling trees and shrubs, trying to figure out where I can plant some of the cooler ones that I didn't realize I wanted till after all of the larger stuff had already been planted. That meant taking out some of the multiples of shrubs that I have, which I mentioned in a recent post here.

I wanted a Magnolia macrophylla, but figured it wouldn't reach its fullest potential unless it was planted in full sun. That meant taking out one of the trees that I just planted last year in the full sun front bed, which is in a western-facing location. A perfect spot for the Magnolia, but as it turned out, not so perfect for the 'Sunlight Lace' Hinoki cypress that I planted in the bed last year. Although the tag says "Full Sun to Partial Shade," I read online that the needles could get sunburnt in full afternoon sun. I decided to give it a shot anyway, but unfortunately, the online advice was correct.

My poor Hinoki cypress's sunburnt arse


So I decided to move the Hinoki cypress into the shadier back garden, and put the bigleaf Magnolia in its place. I don't know what will happen to the sunburnt areas, I just hope it thrives in its new spot. Despite the sunburn, it was doing well in its old spot, putting on good top-growth.

Good growth on the Hinoki cypress

I wanted to keep the Hinoki cypress, despite its bad sunburn. Nigel, the sarcy bugger, told me I should plant an Aloe next to it for its sunburn. In order to fit it into the back garden, that meant moving something else. I had two 'Fat Albert' blue spruces. One, a small one, only about 3 feet high and kind of spindly, was in the corner near the gate, so out it came, and in went the Hinoki cypress. One advantage of putting the cypress in that corner, was that I could hide all those sunburnt needles on the side facing the fence. As Nigel wiggled it around in an attempt to hide as much of its unattractive backside as possible, it prompted a crack from him about the term "Tannenbum" -- being the ugly side of the Christmas tree, always turned to the wall.

No one puts Baby in a corner, but apparently you can put a Hinoki cypress there.

Once I had moved the cypress, it was time to plant two new trees -- the Magnolia macrophylla and the Acer palmatum 'Akane.' Since I had left a full 12 feet all around the Hinoki cypress to leave room for its skirt, I thought I might be able to get away with replacing it with two deciduous trees. So I planted my new Japanese maple Acer palmatum 'Akane' in the full sun front bed as well. I have always heard that Japanese maples need shade too, but my buddy Peter The Outlaw Gardener, who has been encouraging me to get a Japanese maple, told me there were many that could take full sun. According to the tag it can, so we'll see.

It's a skinny tree.
Nigel says it looks like I planted a mop. Loree of Danger Garden has named her bigleaf Magnolia "Clifford." Perhaps I'll call mine "Mopsy." Too many of the plants growing in my garden can be called "Flopsy." I guess all I need now is a plant that I can name "Peter," and I'll have a Beatrix Potter trifecta. I know -- I'll call my new Japanese maple "Peter."

There are leaves popping out on the trunk

A cluster of big leaves against the blue sky

Even though it's still just a baby, the leaves are a good size.

The Japanese maple is dwarfed by a money plant in the bed near it.

Did you follow all that? It's kind of like the song "There was an old woman who swallowed a fly." I moved the cypress to make a spot for the Magnolia and the Japanese maple, and then I moved the spruce to make room for the cypress. The spruce is now living in a pot, so I guess that's the third item I tried to juggle, but dropped.

'Fat Albert' spruce in a pot

Stay tuned for Part Two and Part Three of Juggling Trees and Shrubs.


  1. It's like a plant musical chairs too Alison :) looking forward to part two and part three already! You may not be able to do real juggling but looks like with plant juggling you are, and seems fine too!

  2. Alison, what a very fun read! Love your Mopsy and wish I could have one in my garden, there's just no room. I think moving plants about it the best part of gardening....way more fun than maintenance!

  3. Juggling trees and shrubs? Your arms must be in great shape! Tannenbum - That Nigel is a funny man! Your Hinoki cypress looks great against the fence! Mopsy won't look that way for long! Great name for your new maple but he may be teased by the other trees, especially around Halloween - Peter, Peter pumpkin eater...

  4. How wonderful that you came up with a way to include plants you wanted, all the while making a better placement choice for Mr. Sunburn. Your Magnolia is so tall!!! Yesterday I noticed it's going to be a record year for blooms on Clifford (Andrew named him, after the big red dog).

  5. You will have them so well trained that they'll jump in when the wheelbarrow rolls by. I appreciate your and Nigel's garden humor. Peter's too but we expect that.

    I am not a fan of moving plants. If they're not happy where they are, LOP and they're gone. Usually.

  6. I doubt you are alone in having to perform the tree/shrub shuffle. I am trying to see where I can possibly slot in a tree that produces blossom of one sort or another but like you will probably need to move things around.
    I grow a couple of japanese maples in full sun and find no problems providing the spot isn't windy. So jealous of your Magnolia and really look forward to seeing it thrive there for you Alison.

  7. I rarely even get around to juggling perennials. Trees? That's got to be the perfectionist in you that I so admire.

  8. Your found good spots for your new acquisitions, Alison. I love your new Japanese maple! Here in the land of no rain, high winds and hot summers, the maples do need the cover of shade but then some struggle there too - you've got a better climate for them.

  9. Your new Acer is beautiful, I hope it likes it's spot in full sun! I've never tried moving trees, shrubs yes, but trees have to stay put once planted.

  10. The chamaecyparis, magnolia, and maple all look good in their new homes. I really need to get a Magnolia macrophylla already. And once the fence is up I can get more maples! I've been seeing money plants in bloom on my way to work, but didn't recognize them at that stage. Thanks to you, I know what they are!

  11. I live in Portland OR now, but when we lived north of the Atlanta, GA area we had native big leaf Magnolias on our property mixed in with hardwoods and pine trees. One was at least 30 feet tall and the other two were probably babies that we about 8 feet tall when we left there in 2012.


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