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The Garden Awakens

Anise 'Woodland Red' ( Illicium floridanum ) A few weeks ago, I thought spring would never arrive, but now the change is astonishing. The nights are still cold (40s and sometimes even 30s) so planting tender annuals and vegetables is unwise although I have already succumbed, but covering and uncovering things gets old quickly. Someone made a wise comment last week and I must agree with them - "Don't plant anything tender until after May 1". Several plants are blooming like never before. One is the Anise shrub (above and below). I don't know if the recent tree pruning, which is allowing more sun into the woodland path, is affecting it or perhaps it is just age, but I've never seen so many blooms. Michael refers to this as "the stinky fish shrub" and I have to admit to smell of the flowers is quite unpleasant. It is so beautiful that I can overlook that. The old pink dogwood tree, which was already here, shades our woodland path and it too is prett

Shrubs and Hedges by Eva Monheim - A Book Review


Shrubs and Hedges: Discover, Grow and Care for the World's Most Popular Plants
by Eva Monheim
Cool Springs Press
Publication Date: March 3, 2020

In the introduction, the author reminisces about growing up near Philadelphia and the memories of hedgerows. There was the neighbor's magnificent hedge of privet that completely surrounded their farmhouse, a relatives distant farm whose fields were divided by mixed shrubs and her own families hedges of honeysuckle and roses. These hedges not only provided an attractive facade and means of providing privacy but also acted as a powerful magnet for wildlife, ablaze with singing birds and buzzing insects.

Sadly, as time and development encroached, the hedges were razed to make way for houses and more houses. The passage saddened me as I see it happening on a daily basis all around me. It seems that every time I venture out, I see another field being leveled to make way for a cluttered mass of houses with barely enough space around them to plant anything. 

We have to have hope, however, and the author hopes to inspire a new generation of gardeners, plant lovers and horticultural scientists. The book presents general information on a variety of topics including the history and purpose of shrubs and the complicated system of plant names. There were some interesting tidbits here, especially about common names. For example, I had never heard that Serviceberry (which is sometimes called a host of other names - "Saskatoon" here in the Pacific northwest) may have gotten its name from the fact that it blooms in the spring when the ground has thawed enough to bury a dead body after a cold winter.  I also learned the the 'PJM' rhododendron is named after Peter John Mezitt, a nurseryman who introduced it.

After some rather detailed information about the various shrub shapes and forms and leaf characteristics, specific shrubs are highlighted. The shrubs chosen are ones that provide a multitude of uses and offer multiple seasons of interest. Arranged by season of interest, "Spring" features profiles of spirea, deutzia, kerria, lilac and viburnum. Under the "Summer" section, you will find hydrangea, native roses and the Seven Sons Tree (Heptacodium miconioides). The Fall season showcases more viburnums, beautybeerry, Edgeworthia, hollies and the witch hazels. 

The latter chapters go into designing with shrubs and pruning and caring for them. There is also information on how to create an allees, espalier, topiary and hedges. Attracting wildlife and selecting plants for wet areas are covered in separate chapters. 


The book has an attractive layout with nice photos and detailed charts that pinpoint particular cultivars of specific plants. Overall, a very nice book for people who are just beginning to venture into the plant world and need help with landscaping their property.



Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Comments

  1. Sounds like a good one. I would like a hedge in my tiny garden. ha... You never know it might happen.

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