Spruce instead of roses


I’m hoping that the worst of summer temperatures holds off for a few more weeks. Already, there have been days here and there when heat and humidity have discouraged any but leisure activities in the garden, but there are a few projects that I’m almost motivated to get started on. If the heat kicks in they’ll certainly be delayed until September.

With the late start to spring, and the cold damage that required too many plants to be removed or severely pruned, it’s a wonder that I’ve accomplished anything but just keeping up. But, I’ve gotten around to more than I expected (which is much less maintenance than was needed). Finally, I think that I’ve finished planting, though there are enticements any time I walk through the garden center, and the mood to cram in another shrub or perennial can overrule whatever good sense I might have.Home Run shrub rose in mid August

In the garden surrounding the koi pond, three ‘Home Run’ roses (above) languished for years, and then two of three nearly perished over the winter. This was enough encouragement for me to chop them out and figure what could fill this hole that is a center point between shrubs and perennials seen from the lawn and from a stone patio on the other side. The roses were lackluster with few blooms, so I was hardly disappointed, but even if they had performed well they were the wrong plant for the spot. But, most gardeners have probably planted something, and though it’s not right, they can’t justify pulling out a living plant. Until it’s not living, or at least barely living, and when the roses died to the roots the decision was simple.Spruce and clematisFrom the moment it was apparent that the roses must leave, I knew that an evergreen was appropriate for the spot. And, the neighboring shrubs and perennials have a head start, so this evergreen must be one with a bit of heft, but not one that will grow to monstrous proportions. Quickly, I found a dwarf globe Colorado spruce (Picea pungens ‘Montgomery’, above) that was big enough so that it wouldn’t be lost from the start, and I’ve planted a few others in the garden so I’m aware of their eventual size. In fact, there’s another planted twenty feet away, but I fear that it’s planted where it will eventually be shaded too much, so if and when it declines there will still be a large mound of blue nearby.

The dwarf spruce  is one that I often see planted with spacing that is inappropriate for its mature size. Instead of a cute little ball of blue, it becomes a wide spreading behemoth that obstructs walks and patios. The first one I planted has grown to occupy several feet of a small patio, but the patio was small enough from the start that I insist that it is a landing, just a stopping point in a walkway.  So, while it grew ten feet wide to partially obstruct the path, there’s still plenty of space to get past, and I can claim that I planned it this way all the time.This will not be a problem where the new one is planted.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Don Peters says:

    Many plants in my garden were not doing well, so I’ve been experimenting with application of the fungicide propiconazole. As I discussed my sick plants with my neighbor, she happened to mention that her 5 rose bushes were doing very poorly this year. In fact, she had just bought some replacements for them. I immediately told her to wait, that I wanted to experiment with the sick roses. So I applied the fungicide to them as a ground drench. A week later the roses were putting forth beautiful green leaves and new growth. That was followed by lots of flowers. Meanwhile, I confirmed that her roses had what I call white canker fungal disease that was choking off their vascular system and poisoning them. I used a 400x microscope to examine cross-sections of the rose stems. They were riddled with choking fungus. This fungicide works so well I’ve had my entire yard sprayed with it.

    As for the blue spruce… up here in New England the blue spruces are almost all slowly dying – from this very same disease. The symptoms are that the branches loose needles from the bottom upward over a few years. Meanwhile, other branches higher up take on a sagging appearance and grow outward excessively, ruining the nice symmetrical look of these trees. Eventually, homeowners get fed up and cut the trees down.

    Strangely, plant pathologists don’t know about this fungal disease.

    1. Dave says:

      The problem with roses in my garden was completely due to alternating warm and severe cold in March. I do not spray pesticides of any kind because I’m not good at following the routine that is necessary to control fungus related problems. If a plant cannot fend for itself it won’t be long for this garden.

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