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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – November 21

I got a phone call the other day from someone who had his sights on a hedge of leatherleaf Viburnum. He wanted to see those large, textured, shiny leaves all winter. “That plant might live thought the winter here,” I told him, “but to tell the truth, I’ve never seen them do that well in this area.” In fact, I’ve only seen one decent looking Viburnum rhytidophyllum on Cape Cod.

Perhaps he should plant holly, I suggested, which is also evergreen with shiny leaves. No, he said, he wanted the large, textured shiny foliage of that Viburnum. After we finished the call, I said to myself, “Sometimes we have to make a change of plans.”

Or not. Maybe he’ll go ahead and plant what he’s pictured, and who knows…it might just do well. I’m willing to be proved wrong. But I also know that there have been times when I’ve stubbornly continued to insist, “This is what I want!” when other, far better alternatives and choices are waiting for more me to turn my attention their way.

Sometimes we may be hearing, “No, you can’t have what you want,” when what’s really being offered is, “Perhaps this would be even finer.”

The Prague Viburnum (young, skinny example on the far right) does just fine in this area, although it's a rather open plant. Its habit is useful when you want something that doesn't make a barrier, and it isn't the most cast-iron evergreen over the winter. Nevertheless, it has its merits, and I planted a small one on the edge of this shade garden.

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