My New Shrubs

You know the expression “the shoemaker’s children have no shoes”? Sometimes I feel that way about my yard. The Horticulture editor’s garden has no plants. Well, last weekend I stole some time to plant some shrubs. With a wet week predicted here and a sale at the nursery, I couldn’t resist.

I wanted to get a few low shrubs for along the path leading to our front door. Last spring my husband dug up the two ancient yew shrubs that flanked the start of the sidewalk end of the path, and in their place I started a perennial garden. The yews were a major pain last winter—their branches would sag under the weight of the snow and block the path. Even without snow, it was a tight squeeze between them. I think our mailman must have been happy the Monday he found them gone. His mailbag was always getting caught.

The only good things about the yews were that they were evergreen and they called attention to our front path. My little garden of herbaceous perennials is going to be a bare patch this winter. So I decided some small evergreen shrubs between the garden and our lamppost and front steps would add winter interest, mark the path and connect the garden to the house. They would also work as a backdrop to make the perennials more visible from a distance.

So we made a family trip to the nursery. I had decided on boxwood, which was advertised as 50 percent off. Naturally, once we got there I saw that the discount didn’t apply to the variety I wanted! Oh well, I bought them anyway—two ‘Green Velvet’ boxwood, plus a small Japanese holly, Ilex crenata ‘Helleri’, that caught my eye. That was 25 percent off, at least.

To be honest quite a few shrubs caught my eye. And the nursery was a ghost town, so it was easy to wander around and look at everything. In all of our articles about fall planting, we point out that fall is a great time to visit nurseries because of the great deals to be had. (Which may or may not work out, as you can see from my experience.) Now I say, even if you aren’t planting anything this fall, go to the nursery anyway to browse. Fall shopping is also good protection against impulse purchases. I want to redo the foundation planting in front of our house, but it’s a bigger project than I have time for right now, with my frost date looming, so I’m waiting till spring. While I came home with just the three shrubs I needed for the pathway last weekend, I also got a bunch of planting ideas to look up and mull over this winter, and I’ll be most confident about my design come spring.

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