I often wish the previous owners of my garden had been able to look into the future to determine my color palette preferences. I’m grateful that the previous occupants left me with shrubs that combine year-round flowers and fragrance, and I understand that those attributes are hard to come by all in one package. That’s why I’m pretty thrilled with the white-flowered viburnum, cotoneaster, and strawberry bush I’ve inherited, especially since the latter comes with funny looking edible fruit. I’m all about funny looking plants.
What’s worrying me are all those pink and purple plants I’ve been left with. The camellia by the front steps with the bubble-gum pink flowers is perfectly healthy, which is making it hard for me to rip it out. I was left with lots of bare ground after pulling up a bunch of ivy, and the plants I chose to fill in all that empty space are in shades of burgundy, chartreuse, and orange, which go with pink about as well as white socks go with dress shoes.
Then there are those lilacs. At my old house, my neighbors had a lovely old lilac towering over the fence, which was an ideal state of affairs, because I could enjoy the fragrance and flowers without having to maintain the bush or match my plants to it. The flowers along my new fence still provide lovely fragrant flowers, and provide some privacy screening from the neighbors, though evergreen screening plants would be better. They flop over in the wind and the rain, threatening to knock over or smother any plants or small dogs beneath them. This isn’t too much of a problem, though, because I haven’t come up with anything that looks good under them. The easy way out would be to underplant them with whites and pastels, which is definitely not my style. When describing my garden style, phrases like “edible”, “urban”, or “what is that bizarre plant?” are more likely to come up than “cottage” or “old-fashioned”.
What am I going to do about all these pastel plants? The garden equivalent to painting over the pink and blue walls indoors with red and yellow. I’m going to enjoy the lilacs while they’re blooming, and then out come the loppers and saw. What do you think I should replace them with? Smoke bushes? Espaliered fruit trees?