No fertilizing, except …

I am not a patient man, no matter that I often protest otherwise (unconvincingly, it seems). With a long established garden, I am reluctant to start small and allow any but the most vigorous of plants to grow up to match its neighbors.

This is doubly true for trees, the reason that several Japanese maples are growing in pots, waiting to reach the size when they can satisfactorily fill a void when another tree perishes (which happens on occasion over three decades). A Korean Sweetheart tree (Euscaphis japonica, below) started in a pot, but was rushed into service a year ago to fill a hole between the summerhouse and a newly constructed, octagonal greenhouse.

This year, there will be no flowers or attractive seeds on the Korean Sweetheart tree, but it’s growing with an assist from good summer rainfall and a handful of fertilizer.

The Sweetheart tree was unacceptably small for the spot, but I’ve had a hankering for one since seeing a larger specimen years ago, and this location was perfect, requiring a small tree suited to part sun. So, it was not much taller than terrestrial orchids transplanted nearby, but in the jumble of newly planted foliage it isn’t too awkwardly small. And it’s growing, better than it did in a pot where it suffered without regular watering. Also, because I’ve given it a handful of fertilizer.

By mid-August the Korean Sweetheart has grown slightly taller than three feet, not a tree yet, but on its way. With similar growth next year I will prune to elevate the lowest branches so orchids and others will continue to grow beneath it.

I don’t fertilize much, at least not in the past twenty years since the garden grew up. When I first planted in this new house and garden, I was in a hurry. Who wants to look at tiny plants? But then the garden grew, and nothing ever seemed off color or lacking in growth, so why fertilize? Except now, the Korean Sweetheart tree needs to add four or five feet, in a hurry.

I expect on flush of growth annually from the evergreen Wheel tree, so the small amount of fertilizer will have little effect until spring. I am uncertain when to expect flowers on the Sweetheart or Wheel trees, but growth is most important until these reach five or six feet in height.

The slow growing Wheel tree (Trochodendron aralioides, above) has also filled a void in the garden, but one that it could not possibly grow into, nor is this desirable. The failing Alaskan cedar had grown far too large for its position so close to our kitchen window, so while its loss was at first disappointing, and still I cannot agree with my wife that it is good riddance, I know that the garden is better without.

The Wheel tree is not readily available, but I was quite pleased that it arrived by mail order larger than expected. My wife instructed that nothing taller than a daffodil should be planted in this space so the view to the garden not be interrupted, and I’m afraid this shrubby evergreen tree has surpassed that already, but it has also received a handful on granular encouragement.

One Comment Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Plants that get fertilized regularly, even when not necessary, can eventually express symptoms of toxicity. Of course, that may not be a problem in your soil. Some of the soils here, although of excellent quality, do not take too much fertilizer well.

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