Gardeners are frequently faced with a compelling question—where can I find a home for this new plant I've just purchased on a whim?! The garden is so full that often no spot can be found.
I face the opposite problem. I have thousands of square feet available to me, which in a way creates the paradox of choice. There are so many places it almost hinders me from planting anything. Almost.
My solution has been to put some plants into a holding trial garden to see how they fair in the ground while others are placed in permanent locations. I'm planting the latter with purpose by citing in favorable growing conditions where they can be enjoyed and will fit my larger overall design scheme.
Edgeworthia papyifera 'Winter Gold' (paper bush) was the first one I wanted in the ground. I brought it with me from the Pi Alpha Xi plant sale in North Carolina when I moved in July 2014 because it's one of my absolute favorite shrubs, and I was worried I might not find it in Texas. Why do I like it, you ask? During the growing season, the large tropicalesque, pubescent leaves collect water and refract rainbows in the tiny, liquid diamonds. Then, in the winter fuzzy buds that look like dozens of little dog noses huddled together in the cold swell and open to reveal fragrant canary yellow blooms. The plant also has quite the story. The Japanese make bank notes and paper (hence the name paper bush) out of this beautiful shrub, which I liken to using the Mona Lisa as toilet paper. I appreciate the utilitarian purposes of plants, but I cherish the blossoms so much I would never think of destroying a branch.
Since I purchased it, the plant has grown to be 3–4 ft tall and prone to drying down. It's ready to go in the ground, but where to put it?
As I wrote in a previous post, I've already begun sectioning the 2.5 acres here into smaller parcels, and the front yard will be a winter garden that will feature color, fragrance, and interest during the dark season. We have a large wrap-around porch to enjoy the outside—summers in the back and winters in the front. Also, our master bedroom windows face this area, and what we plant will be easily enjoyed regardless of the weather.
I hoisted the 12 gallon faux terra cotta pot in my hand out of my make shift nursery. It was light and needed some moisture. I walked around to the front yard and sited it in the shrub border that runs the length of the front part of the property. There are several openings where we want shrubs to grow to block the view from the road. I chose a gap beneath a large, weathered Juniperus virginiana (eastern red cedar) and plopped the shrub down. I walked to the front door, the swing on the front porch, and the bedroom window to make sure it was in the line of sight from each view. I walked back to the transplant and pulled it out just a tad from the shrub border to make room behind for an evergreen. I imagined the flowers popping against the verdant foliage of a future Osmanthus or Camellia.
I dug the hole, the shovel slicing through the sandy loam like a hot knife through butter. I chuckled to myself that with my 27 years of gardening experience in sub-par soils that I've leveled up enough to reach soil heaven!
I took the plant out of the pot and looked at the roots. I was surprised at the absence of any circulating. They all looked healthy and growing downward. I teased them slightly.
I put the rootball in the hole. Too deep. Pull out. More soil in. Rootball back in the hole. Perfect. I made sure the pretty side was facing the house.
We were left a nice long 100 ft hose with the house, and I hooked it up and drug the nozzle to the gaping hole. I turned the water on a slow trickle and walked away to find more homes for my weary plant travelers that have journeyed with me from place to place. It is dry, and I want to make sure that the plant has enough water to get it adjusted. When I returned, the hole runneth over, and I turned the spigot off.
I started to return the soil to the hole, it slurping as it sank to the bottom. Once finished, I let it settle, and I turned the water on again a bit later to further remove any air pockets.
This process, digging a hole and planting a plant, is something I've done a thousand times (nay, 10,000?! 100,000!?!?) in my life. But, this time, this first planting at our new home, feels extra special. I've been a container gardening vagabond, travelling from place to place, accumulating plants as I've moved about. Some have not made the entire journey, but for those that have, it's going to be fun finding them their homes just like I've found mine.