Why plant this, or that?

I wonder about a grouping of sweetbox (Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis, below), planted in the curve of a stream constructed years ago. Yes, it’s a nice enough evergreen, and certainly it’s filled in nicely. Perhaps there is nothing that would do better filling this space, but it seems somewhat nonsensical to plant a shrub with the primary attribute being its fragrance, when I can hardly smell a thing. Anything, well occasionally I can smell witch hazels flowering in winter, on a still, sunny day, and the same goes for some of the daphnes if I get my nose very close. But, anything else, nothing.

Sweetbox flowering the first week of March, a bit later than some years. The tiny flowers are not showy, except for their fragrance. The shrub is slow to become established, but then it’s a good, sturdy evergreen.

Despite my inability to enjoy the fragrance, the sweetbox is staying put. It was slow getting started, and no matter that now it sends roots that sprout stems between stones in the neighboring path. I waited patiently, a rarity in these parts, and now I treasure the dense clump, even if I can’t smell it.

Sweetbox, Japanese Forest grass, and hostas border moss covered rocks that line the stream.

I gave up thinking long ago that there needs to be a good reason for every plant in the garden. Yes, others should have a well considered purpose for each plant, but why me? Even as it becomes more crowded, I routinely add plants on the slightest whim, in particular ones that stay small enough to be crammed into just about any space. I have to give a bit more consideration to adding a tree, or a shrub of any size, but often these obstacles can be worked around. I suppose there is something at least a bit askew about this, but it’s hardly a problem to my thinking. (My wife’s opinion on this matter does not count.)

Of course, I’ve cautioned my wife that there are plenty of purchases on the way. I don’t remember exactly what, and no locations have been determined for anything, but that will be figured out quickly as they’re delivered, or as my little car is jam packed returning from the garden center. Certainly, there’s half a plan when a purchase is made. I am almost certain there’s a place for most everything.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. C says:

    Dave — The Sweetbox, Japanese Forest grass, and hostas which border the moss covered rocks that line the stream are beautiful. Such an inspiring and peaceful spot in your gardens. Enjoy! Spring is finally here.

    1. Dave says:

      This is my favorite spot in the garden, and when we had two sister hounds, one would lay down in the stream to cool off every summer afternoon.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Almost everything is my garden is a particular cultivar. My fruit trees are the same cultivars that grew in the old orchards of the Santa Clara Valley. There are a few odds and ends that I grew from bits and pieces that I grabbed here and there. (That is a lot of ‘and’.) Otherwise, it is very regimented. Yet, I really thin that a more relaxed style is healthier, and prettier.

  3. Linda says:

    I have difficulty smelling flowers as well. As for witch hazel, mine has been in the ground 5 years and this year it had the most flowers ever – a grand total of 5,

    1. Dave says:

      The vernal witch hazels flowered very poorly for me this year, I think because the soil is saturated. There were plenty of flower buds that did not open. I think the tree will survive, but I won’t be certain for another couple weeks. My Jelena witch hazel flowers much more sparsely than Arnold Promise and Diane. Part of the reason is that it is supposed to have fewer blooms, but it is also partially shaded, which makes a difference.

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