Stubborn. Obstinate. Take your pick, but I am not one to give up, even when evidence to the contrary is overwhelming.
A discarded ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia (Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’, above) became available, and no matter that several have died in the garden in recent years, the price was right and what the heck. I am quite convinced that this mahonia is not sufficiently cold hardy to survive winters in the area, but I’ve planted the coarser textured, but similar ‘Beijing Beauty’ (below) in what I assume to be a protected mircroclimate with success. It is clear that I am not a good judge of of such locations despite thirty one years of trying, and mostly failing with borderline hardy plants, but I am somewhat encouraged by this success, so here I go again.
There is no doubt that the texture of ‘Soft Caress’ evergreen foliage is exceptional, and its mid autumn blooms are pleasant enough, but none of this matters a hoot if it doesn’t survive. Ones that perished in the past typically lived a year or two, barely surviving in visible distress, so this tells me that I’m just a few degrees off this one living, and if I’m lucky with its new location, possibly it will even look good.
While ‘Winter Sun’ and several similar mahonias display long flowering spikes that will open to yellow blooms in several weeks, ‘Marvel’ (below) will not flower again this year. With a shortage of ideal locations, ‘Marvel’ was planted into a shaded spot, that I thought might be too dark. After two years with no flowers, I must move it to a sunnier location. Probably, it’s too late for it to develop a flower, but maybe next year.
‘Marvel’ is a newer introduction for gardeners who prefer their mahonias without spines. It has only one, at the leaf ‘s tip, instead of spines along the edges that discourage handling, but also deer. The stiff leaves do not seem very appetizing, but I’ll soon find out when it’s moved to a more open spot.
The oldest of the ‘Winter Sun’ mahonias required a bit of rejuvenation this year, with a considerable amount of dead wood cut out. It’s been chopped in half, and the stubby shrub looks a bit odd after seeing it towering over head in recent years. But, it’ll be back quickly and it seems a lot more vigorous without the dead branches. As always, there are flowering spikes at the tip of every branch, and along with autumn flowering camellias there will be plenty of blooms in November.