Saturday, 6 January 2018

wrong plant, wrong place

I decided today, the Eryngium pandanifolium has got to go.  It is an uncomfortable thing to do, removing a perfectly healthy plant, besides which the Eryngium came from Great Dixter meaning that digging it out is akin to desecrating a sacred relict.  Nonetheless, I am resolved.  It is going.

It is one of the rosette forming eryngiums, built on a massive scale.  It looked quite innocent fifteen years ago when I bought it as a single rosette in a pot that was no more than two or three litres.  By now it has bulked out to form many, many rosettes, and each individual strap shaped leaf is four or five feet long.  The clump must be eight feet across, and has burst through a box hedge in one direction and is swamping a path in the other.

I am not precious about hedges.  All of mine tend to undulate, and are often whiskery, and the concept of the regulated line of the hedge being broken by a gigantic, spiky herbaceous plant could be fun, like the Headington shark crashing through the roof of the house in Oxford.  I'm all for challenging the concept of what a hedge should be.  The problem is with Eryngium pandanifolium.

It is evergreen, but with a high turnover of leaves.  Those around the outside of the rosette go brown and die but remain on the plant looking visibly tatty until somebody (me) comes round and chops them off.  Because there are so many rosettes lots of brown foliage keeps developing inside the clump, and reaching into the plant to extract all of it takes a long time, and has to be done frequently,  while the old leaves recoil and keep springing out of whatever bag or large bucket I am trying to collect them in.  They also tend to bend and break mid way along their length while still green, when again they look tatty like a dog-eared book.  Perhaps this is my fault for planting the Eryngium where the wind can get to it.  Perhaps it would be happier and not break in a more sheltered garden, a garden of rooms more like Great Dixter.  The tall flower spikes when they arrive late in the year are quite dramatic, but not enough to make up for the aggravation of having lived with the great clump of browning, breaking leaves for the previous nine months.

So it is going to go.  I asked the Systems Administrator yesterday what the SA thought, and the SA replied that it looked out of place where it was.  Once it has gone there will be a nice little space for something else in that bed, after I've filled in the gap in the hedge.  There's a Hemerocallis that needs moving because it is too shaded by the roses where it is.  Or my enthusiasm for spiky plants remains undimmed and my seed order to Derry Watkins included a packet of a hardy Hesperaloe.  That is supposed to be slow growing.

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