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Report From PIA – February 7

I was reading the catalog from Digging Dog Nursery this morning, turning down page corners and circling plant names. I want seven of this, five of that, and…. before I got to page seven, a huge case of plant-lust has kicked in.

Aside from the varieties that I really must have, it was interesting to read how particular plants are described. For example, one of my all time, must-have in the garden plants, Heptacodium miconioides, is listed as a shrub. I’ve always called it a tree.

Heptacodium, also called seven son flower, grows twelve to twenty feet high, and about fifteen feet wide. It can be found in mult-stem forms, or single trunk specimens. This shrub/tree has exfoliating (peeling) bark and it flowers in September. After the white flower petals drop, the pink calyxes remain until hard frost, extending the season of color and interest. A yummy plant.

Does it matter if we call it a shrub or a tree? I think so. People commonly think of shrubs as something that grows up to eight feet tall, but not much taller. Yes, some shrubs grow larger, but let’s not get picky about terms that help with public perception. The average home-landscaper thinks of a shrub as something that stays under eight feet, so let’s use the term that best helps them to put a plant in the right place.

That said, I recognize that one of our great challenges as humans is to really understand other people,  knowing that our experiences, and terminology, may be completely different from theirs.

This small Heptacodium tree is still filled with pink calyxes in early November.

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