The Good, The Bad and The Dead

Am I the only one that has song or movie titles stick in their head? Every time I try to come up with the title for a post, one of them comes up in my mind.

In homage to Clint, I would like to take a few minutes to introduce you to my  The  Good, The Bad and The Dead (it is supposed to be  The Ugly, but I am taking poetic licence.

First, the Good– for me it was my snowdrops. I am sure all my regular readers know how obsessed with snowdrops I am, and my pitiful very small collection of snowdrops doubled from last year. Even better, Jen from Muddy Boot Dreams was kind enough to post me some snowdrops ‘ in the green’. This means I will probably have treble next year, very good indeed.

Unfortunately we have to move on to the Bad. Last year, I bought this gorgeous golden yew from Marion Jarvies open garden. I wanted to bring more conifers into my garden, as well as foliage colours, other than green. It was a lovely pyramidal shape and looked perfect.  We do get a lot of now in Owen Sound. Sometimes it is good, as it gives some borderline plants a lot of winter protection, but sometimes, not so good.  The very heavy snow and the conical shape of the yew did not a good match make. As you can see, the top snapped right off.

Even worse, we come to the Dead.

When you are planting an allee, or in this case a pleached walk, you want all your trees to match. Nothing is worse then when one of them dies, but that is what happened to me.  One of the linden trees in my Lime Walk, did not make it through the winter. Now it will have to be replaced and I have lost a whole growing year. But it could have been worse, the walk could have been planted a number of years ago, that would have been more difficult to match up. Now I only needed a five foot Tilia cordata ‘Greenspire’ and the walk is complete again.

This is what it should look like,

But one of them looks like this,

The good news is that 5 new Tilia are arriving on Saturday, one to replace this one, and I am extending the walk by four trees. After all, can you ever have too many trees.


48 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Joy said,

    Hey there girl ! .. Sorry about the naughty plant children ? LOL
    I love our pyramidal yews (which reminds me they need a trim ..) I bought them years ago to hide the AC unit and they have stuck with me through thick and thin .. nothing like a beautiful yew !
    That ally of trees is going to be gorgeous : ) and you are SO right .. you can never have enough trees !! or is that too many trees ? LOL

    • 2

      Joy, you know I love European garden design, and pyramidal shapes are a huge part of it. I was so disappointed to love the top of the cone, I know it will grow back eventually!
      I hope in two to three years the pleaching will start to look like something.

  2. 3

    Sorry to hear that you lost one of the trees for your Lime Walk – and such a pretty one too! I’m sure you will have it replaced in no time so it can get on with growing in to match it’s neighbours!

  3. 5

    Hi Deborah – I’ve been waiting anxiously to see what was happening up in Owen Sound. Sorry to hear you had some “Bad” and “Dead”. It’s the way of the gardener.

  4. 7

    miss m said,

    Unfortunately, gardening offers no guarantees ! I concur, luckily the lindens are young. Imagine a hole in an established Allée. Eeek ! I know you’re not a fan of fencing/burlap, but I guess that yew could use a little added winter protection the first few years ? I’m sure it will bounce back.

    • 8

      miss m, wouldn’t that have been tragic, 1 year is nothing compared to an established one! I might have to burlap it this year, I just like the natural look, as you know, the beauty of evergreens is the colour they provide all winter.

  5. 9

    Barbarapc said,

    What a nuisance – botanical gardens will often have a few extras growing in large sunk-in-the-soil containers to drag into position incase you lose something -would you have room to do something like that? Except for the last couple of years I lost about 5-10% of my perennials every year – this year it’s been about 1%. If nothing else, determined gardeners certainly keep the nurseries in business.

    • 10

      Barbara, I wish I had thought of having a reserve last year, it would have been so much easier, as small whips are a bit difficult to find. The other problem is the space to keep one on hand, as you said. I have been very lucky, I have lost nothing other then the Tilia.

  6. 11

    Jen said,

    Oh my gosh, I thought I was the only one stricken with writing post titles that matched songs. The entire time I am writing them, the song goes through my head.

    Now about those dead plants, yes, it’s bad, but at least there’s no “bad moon risin.”

    I am waiting to see those snow drops expand by leaps and bounds, do you think by next year? LOL.


  7. 13

    You and me both kid! I did the good, the bad and the ugly post last weekend too – mine was a whole list of dead plants but I looked on it positively and that maybe it was time for a change.

    It could have been worse it could have been more of your trees – but if you could get your hands on some of David Austin’s “start” or “Rootgro” and put that around the roots of your new trees that would help them settle in and grow in no time. Deborah do a google on those and see if they are available in Canada – I use that stuff all the time when I am planting and it really works.

    • 14

      Rosie, it is always nice to have a bit of a change, isn’t it. Especially if your garden is quite full, how are you going to try anything else if nothing dies. I will google the rootgro and see if they are available here, thanks for the advice.

  8. 15

    It’s always a mix in the spring/summer isn’t it? While some plants outdo them selves (and we can tell ourselves that we have fabulous green thumbs), other dissappoint, often through no fault of their own or ours. It really is fortuante that your lime walk is only 1, the idea of back up plants is appealing, if space permits.

  9. 17

    I do so hope you have more snowdrops than you know what to do with next spring…if that’s actually possible 😛 How frustrating to lose one of your trees though. We have a boxwood hedge, courtesy of the prior owners, and two of the boxwoods, right in the middle, mysteriously turned brown and died. It looks all strange now. Hopefully your new trees will fill in quickly though, and I’m sure by the end of summer you’ll never know that one tree had a problem. Our boxwood however, is doomed to be removed…

    • 18

      Thanks Clare, But how could you have too many snowdrops, lol. It is very strange when only one or two of an established hedge die, and very hard to replace. Too bad your hedge is on the hit list.

  10. 19

    I had the same thing happen to one of my plum trees! I had them planted next to each other – one on each side of a gate. When one died, I just pulled out the other one. They were three years old and the one that was left was planted to close to our garage anyway. Your new tree will catch up in no time.

    At least you’ve got your snowdrops!! 😉

  11. 21

    Marian said,

    A dead plant = a design opportunity! As you have just shown us!
    Good luck with the pleaching!

    Best wishes


  12. 23

    Laurrie said,

    I am so anxious to see the evolution of the pleached linden walk. So sorry you lost one… that’s kind of major! I am really curious how the trees will look (I am only used to the big full linden tree form as it stands in its natural shape.) You’ll have to keep posting for many years to come so we can see this develop into the leafy walk you must envision.

    • 24

      Laurrie, I am curious how it will look/work as well. It is a very European style, not seen much in North America. I am getting some advice from some English bloggers, but it will be a learning experience, lol. If you look closely at the picture of the young linden, you can see how the branches grow very straight out to the sides. The wood is very flexible when young, and will be bent and tied horizontally. Any branches growing in the other direction, will be cut off at the trunk. It will look like a free standing espalier. But don’t worry, if it works out I will be posting tons of pictures.

  13. 25

    teza said,

    Well, its been an emotional roller coaster for you with this post. Hurray with the ‘in the green’ Galanthus from Jen – a great blogging friend indeed. Sorry to hear about death’s visit to the garden twofold. A treasure from MJ’s open garden would be a wonderful addition to any garden! Hopefully you will be able to replace it – even though the sentimental attachment will be lacking. As for the Tilia – hopefully the replacements are of a similar size and habit to the existing. I so love their handsome vase shaped habit. Gardening is sheer folly sometimes. Win some. Lose some, but always willing to give it another go!

    • 26

      Teza, I am picking up the replacement this Saturday, same variety and hopefully will be a similar size, I have my fingers crossed. You know me, I am always willing to give it another try!

  14. 27

    Sorry to hear about “the dead.” I hate it when that happens. But expanding by 4 – that’s good news! I’ve been humming “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” from Wizard of Oz for the last 3 days. Please, make it stop.

  15. 29

    Deborah, It’s hard to see the inevitable damage winter leaves behind. I know some of my hydrangeas are starting to worry me, they better show signs soon.

    If they do show signs of life, maybe my post title should read, “The Undead”. 😉

  16. 31

    It’s always sad to lose plants, our casualties of winter. I’m finding that I’m rethinking what we can grow here in our mild climate, because suddenly you can get a nasty winter and lose too much.

    • 32

      Helen, you do get used to thinking that nothing will happen when you are gardening in a mild climate. But along comes a winter like this past one, and many, many established plants are killed. Is it better to be safe than sorry?

  17. 33

    Autumn Belle said,

    I like your post title. I like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly show and song as well. Happy Spring!

  18. 35

    Grace said,

    Hi Deborah, My fingers are crossed for the success of your new Tilias. It seems that winter has been detrimental to many plants this year.

    I’ll remember the movie/blog title idea. I’m always stymied when attempting to come up with a creative title.

  19. 37

    debsgarden said,

    I’m sorry about the hole in your lime walk! But soon it will be good as new. I guess that’s a disadvantage of a formal garden, with rows of matching plants. But there will always be plants that die for one reason or another. Your beautiful lime walk will be worth the effort!

    By the way, the music from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is close to my all time favorite!

  20. 39

    barry said,

    Hi Deborah,
    We need a field trip down to Vineland to replace those woodies.
    Also Whistling Gardens ( a great place for trees and shrubs) is having a big sale right now.

  21. 41

    Jennifer said,

    I live just outside of Toronto and have been to Owen Sound a few times. Lovely old houses there.

    I have two evergreens flanking the entrance to my circle garden.
    One was ravaged by winter. I hate to remove it and destroy the lovely symmetry.

    Oddly enough, the good thing about dead shrubs and trees is there is a dead “body”. To act on a nursery guarantees you must produce said dead body and plunk it down on the sales desk and say, “Here it is my dead whatever bush. I’d like my money back please.”

    I often find that my perennials don’t make it over the winter and have vanished by spring. There is nothing to present for that money back guarantee. I hate to think of the hundreds of dollars I have lost over the years!

    It is also heartbreaking to loose a shrub or tree that you have invested in for years.

    • 42

      Jennifer, there are a lot of lovely old houses in OS, that was part of what attracted us to buy there, and it is not that far from Toronto. Luckily the Tilia was only one year old, but I got it wholesale, so no guarantee. But, you are right, some of the perennials are only a bunch of roots, could be anything. I try not to add up how much I have spent, it has to be cheaper than gambling, lol.

  22. 43

    Wendy said,

    oooh, I’ll just avert my eyes on the last photo.

    The snowdrops look wonderful though!!

  23. 45

    commonweeder said,

    I just had to tell you that the few snowdrops I moved ‘in the green’ took, and I am looking forward to a few more – near the house this time – in the spring. Thanks for the tip.

  24. 47

    Diane said,

    Looks like a place a gardening could spend many hours! One of my favourite garden centres has two cats as well.

    Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog recently. I appreciate it. You have a wonderful one.

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