Plants I Love
Pink-leaved Chestnut, Leafing Out
Five days from the first picture of April 19, and we've had some warmth and (just as important) a serious rain. It takes a lot of water to inflate the large leaves. And—who knows?—maybe it takes some special energy to turn them pink too.
It's Spring, and things move fast: Excitement might be afoot Tuesday but gone by Saturday. And you won't want to miss it.
Certainly not this plant, the pink-leaved chestnut. You read right. Pink. Look closer:
Every April, strange almost alien green eggs appear atop the gravel at the shady side of the driveway. When they open up into spheres of countless cream flowers here, they don't look much less alien. In fact, they look more like the compound insect-like eyes of some unknowable but intensely-observant Other than actual flowers.
Well, let 'em look.
Osage Orange in Winter
I seem unable to resist thorny, spiny, and prickly plants not in spite of those painful features, but because of them. Inch-long spines of osage orange are profuse as well as effective deterrents to casual contact with humans, let alone the nibbles of any and all browsers.
On this basis alone, the trees should be ideal for the unfenced portion of my garden. But this osage cultivar, Cannonball, has another irresistible talent: producing enormous fruits that are literally cannonball size. Why have just the normal grapefruit-sized ones?
The Higher-than-Ever Hedge of American Holly
All forms of holly rebound eagerly when pruned, which is one reason they can form such effective, attractive, durable hedges: They can be pruned a little or a lot, and respond by forming vigorous bushy new growth.
This eagerness is the reason holly is so quick and easy to train into a hedge. Long-term, it's also the reason that the hedge can be maintained at peak condition forever. The key is welcoming the new growth while, at the same time, being able to prune most of it away without a qualm.
My immense old hedge of American holly is the poster child for long-term healthy care. In less than two years after its last ruthless prune, the top bristles with new shoots three feet tall and taller. As it turns out, they are just the tips of the radical cut-back that's needed.