First things first, I picked three names to win some Touring cards from Monday’s post. Congrats to Mary (Moore), Wendy and Melanie!
Now, on with today’s post.
Since I seem to usually share only my successes with you guys, today I decided to share a failure, my lilac hedge. I just thought I’d keep it real and let you all know that not everything I do turns out well.
When we bought our house 28 years ago or so, there was an unruly hedge along the back property line. I have no idea what kind of shrub it was, it didn’t flower or look pretty in any way whatsoever. It did however provide tons of privacy. We could barely see any of the houses behind us. In fact, in over 20 years I had never even met the lovely woman who owns the house just behind me. This photo gives you some idea of how it looked back there behind the photo cottage. It was tall and full, but also very straggly and unkempt.
After many years of trying to prune it into some sort of shape, I finally gave up and we pulled it all out. That year I met Claudia, whom I now secretly call the ‘neighbor behind the hedge’, and realized that she’s a lovely person and had lived back behind there the whole time!
I have to admit though, as soon as we pulled the hedge out I got a sick feeling in my stomach. I felt like we had exposed ourselves to the world. What was once a private oasis was now a wide open view of suburbia. Ugh. But I knew that I had to start somewhere with a new hedge and I reminded myself that gardening takes a lot of patience. I told myself that it would only take 3 or 4 years before we had some privacy again.
I decided to put in lilacs. I wanted something that would flower, and also something that would grow just as large as the last hedge. I also wanted something old fashioned and not too formal or fussy. Lilacs seemed like the perfect choice. This all took place b.b. (before blog), so I wasn’t thinking about how lovely they are to photograph, but that has been a bonus.
I selected a few different lilac hybrids for my hedge, some really dark purple, some pale pink, some more of a wine color.
I planted them as per instructions and initially they did well, but of course were short and spaced rather far apart. After their first winter, I had a couple of shoots that died off. I cut them back in the spring and kept hoping for lots of new growth. But then the next winter I had more branches that died off. I cut those back, and now my plants were fairly misshapen. I continued to hope that they would fill in during year 3. You know the adage, first year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap.
Unfortunately I am now on year five and my hedge looks likes this …
It is not a pretty sight and it certainly isn’t giving me any privacy. This past winter even more branches died back, and the plants on either end of the hedge are almost completely dead.
The branches that are still alive are covered in flowers though!
I need to decide what to do at this point. Do I attempt to prune them properly again this year and see if I can get them to fill out? Do I replace the dead ones on the ends with new lilacs? Or do I try something different like some Limelight hydrangeas or maybe a Viburnum?
I hate to give up on them when they provide such lovely flowers for furniture photos shoots!
But they sure aren’t living up to my expectations.
If any of you have any lilac advice, I am all ears.