Ugly plant, fixing it

I'm a fairly patient gardener compared to most. I'll give a poorly-performing plant a decent chance before I relocate it, or even banish it. Usually this means an entire growing season, but sometimes it means a few years.

Take for instance this 'Fine Line' buckthorn, Rhamnus frangula. I picked it up at least 5 years ago at a bargain price, and envisioned it forming a column of green, feathery foliage.


Perhaps it's the soil, or our hot, humid summers, but this thing has never performed well for me:

As you can see, the bulk of the plant is bare stems. Ugly!

This corner of the house deserves something more attractive, don't you agree? Plus, there's definitely a call for something vertical here, and this slow-growing shrub is not the right answer.

Instead of just yanking it out right now though, I decided to use it for a little while -- as a trellis.

You see, I planted one of my new clematis vines here!

I envisioned having to build a tall trellis as part of this planting process, but then realized that it will be a little while before the vine needs the full-height support, so I'll just use the buckthorn as the support for now.

I'll build the trellis soon, as I've got a few good design ideas. I like the fact that I didn't have to do it now though -- plenty of other projects to do already! Plus the buckthorn will get hidden a bit -- so ugly!

I used my clematis planting momentum to get another one into the ground, in the back yard at the top of the stream:

It will climb up that deck support column, adding some color and well, just looking awesome.

Part of the stream works is in the way, but I'm not too concerned as the stream will very soon be rebuilt. (I need to tackle that project before the heat of summer arrives!)

This really needed to get into the ground a bit earlier I think.

Like in the front, I just added a temporary support -- the permanent trellis will take a little more effort that I just didn't have time for last weekend.

They're not looking great yet, as all of the leaves need to readjust to their new positions, but I expect both of these to be important features of the garden in a couple of years.

I just need to figure out what to do with that buckthorn when I remove it. I'll have to do it fairly soon so I don't disturb the new clematis roots too much. Maybe I'll just stick it into a big pot.

Even after five or more years of ugly I can't just throw it onto the compost pile.

(I put the 'Niobe' clematis in the back, and the Jackmanii in the front yard by the buckthorn in case you were wondering.)


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danger garden  – (May 31, 2013 at 10:35 AM)  

It looks like the clematis is giving the buckthorn a hug...

Alan  – (May 31, 2013 at 11:12 AM)  

Loree: it *is* a hug... a death hug.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (May 31, 2013 at 11:33 AM)  

When I looked at the first photo I thought "I have no idea what he's complaining about, it's a good looking plant." But then I saw the rest. Ugh. The clematis will do wonders here.

scottweberpdx  – (May 31, 2013 at 12:01 PM)  

Haha...I think your solution is spot-on :-)

Lisa  – (June 1, 2013 at 8:33 AM)  

That buckthorn is like me - looks great from the neck up! :)

Alan  – (June 1, 2013 at 11:04 AM)  

Lisa: LOL -- funniest comment I've seen in a while!

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