What I Did About the Japanese Yew
You may recall a couple of posts during the spring where I talked about how I was removing a large Japanese Yew (Taxus cuspidata) from the southwest corner of the Back Garden, right next to the gate that opens up to the alley.
We did implement the decision to replace the Yew with 2 Red Osier Dogwoods (Cornus sericea). I found a couple of good specimens at a local garden center, and they were planted by early May.
The wet, cool weather we’ve had was probably fortuitous in terms of helping the Dogwoods to make themselves at home. They were about 5′ tall at planting, and have put on another foot or so. They still need to fill out and in, though, as it’s possible to see through them to the various bins (trash, recycling, landscape) in the alley.
As for what remains of the Yew limbs, let me say this: don’t do what I did. Because what I did was make an impulse purchase before doing any research. Specifically, I bought a Kentucky Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens ‘Amathyst Falls’), a cultivar of a species native to the upper south and lower midwest, though not to the Chicago area.
Kentucky Wisteria is smaller and less rampant than its Chinese counterpart. It’s a twining vine and so to be hospitable I wrapped chicken wire around the thick Yew stems. It can grow more than 20′ long, so I’ll try to trail the stems along the top of our alley fence, if it ever comes to that.
Some sources say American Wisteria prefers acid soil (ours is alkaline) others claim that it is adaptable on this point. It can take several years before it starts to bloom. So I really don’t know how this is going to work out. It’s all in the hands of the gardening gods. This may not turn out to be the smartest gardening decision I’ve ever made.
Why did I embark on what may be a horticultural fools errand? I guess because Wisteria flowers are so beautiful.
Can you say that you’ve never made an impulse plant purchase that made less than total sense? Huh? Can you?
The wisteria looks like it will be beautiful eventually. I have three red twig dogwoods along my alley fence that were planted a couple years ago and they have really filled in quickly. Have I ever bought a plant on impulse–how much time do you have?
I’ve seen some red twigs, you are right that they will grow really thick and substantial. That’s what I’m hoping for.
Actually. I happen to like the American wisteria. I got it because I wanted a tame vine. I think that the problem that most have with it is that they expect it to be like other wisterias. I think of it as instant coffee, which is a pretty good beverage as long as one does not compare it to regular coffee.
I feel reassured that you like it. I bought it hoping that it would not be as overwhelming as the Chinese Wisteria.
Oh, it is completely different. In fact, mine grew slower than I wanted it to. It was worth the wait. Now, the pruning is very minimal. I want to eventually get the white one too.
We live and learn 😉
Well, we live, anyhow. The learning part is less assured.
I have always loved Wisteria, (possibly a different variety to yours) but our neighbours inherited some lovely Wisteria growing along the front of their house, and after a few years they were dismayed to find the roots had grown so big and strong over time they were starting to lift the foundations of the house!
That’s probably the Chinese Wisteria. The American Wisteria is not such a powerhouse (don’t tell DT).
No comment about impulse purchases from me. 🙂
Smart. The Constitution says we cannot be compelled to incriminate ourselves.
Let me say this about impulse buying…I do it regularly. It is a way of life. 😉 I will say I bet that wisteria grows like mad. If it is anything like the one I had it will bloom faster than you might think. I like your dogwoods too.
A way of life, I like that. And our God-given right!
Impulse buying and I are very good friends. It never leaves me. I just ordered 2 new own root roses; now I have to unfriend some endlessly disappointing hydrangeas that are taking up space the roses could use!
I love the randomness of vines and the way they drape themselves over anything and everything. No matter how “successful” it certainly will be interesting!
I think so, too.
None of my impulse plant purchases make sense. That’s why gardening is fun and accounting is not.
Excellent choice btw. It may not be native to the area yet but I think you’re just helping it along as it spreads north
I suppose you are right about impulse plant purchases – what good are they if they all make sense?
Those gardening gods! I hope they smile upon you. Keep us posted.
I love Wisterias and succeeded in our previous place. They bloomed with long racemes, twice in a season; excited by the prospect of my early success, I planted one in our new home-no luck. Later, I bought a Chicago Wisteria and got small flowers which were nothing like my previous success. Lately, a friend gave me a baby from her plant, so far it’s growing well! In essence I have three-my first one lives -a lonely life! while I wait for the new one to bloom. I should have unfriended them as I do with all the non performing plants, but I can still remember my first one, and so keep hoping!
Good luck with them. I’ll keep you and everybody posted on how mine does.
Who, me? Never! Red Osier Dogwood can grow pretty big. As you probably know, old canes need to be removed so the young ones can get really red in winter. Looks great against the snow.
That’s what we were thinking – get some winter color.
I planted an Amethyst Falls several years ago. It has been doing great. It even survived the super cold winter and very wet spring.
That’s good to hear!
Red Osier is so pretty. It grows wild all over the place here and adds some much appreciated color to the winter landscape.
It grows wild in our area, too.
I can’t say that I haven’t but my impulse purchases were usually planted in someone else’s yard.
Blueberry growers here often mulch the bushes with white pine sawdust, which raises the soil acidity somewhat. I don’t know if the same trick would help the wisteria, but it probably wouldn’t hurt.
Thanks, might try it. Though I’ll have to see if I can locate white pine sawdust.
Wisteria “Amethyst Falls” was a selection made by nursery folk near where we used to live in Upstate South Carolina. It’s a lovely plant, although not as robust as Chinese Wisteria, thank goodness. I hope it does well for you!
Thanks. I’m hoping it’s a little less robust than the Chinese species.
I would say you definitely made a good choice with the dogwood, but I’ll wait to comment on the Wisteria. I had by ordeals with them in Mississippi when renovating the back yard at the mansion. I am not sure if they survive in your area, but have you tried Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo). I fell in love with them in Mississippi and brought a small one with me when I came back to Missouri.
I don’t think the Nandina is hardy around here.
I’m sure your dogwoods will have bushed out by the end of summer. That wisteria really does have a lovely flower, I’d happily wait for that to flower. Good luck with it.xxx
Thanks! The dogwoods are coming along, though now it’s so hot and dry I’m watering them by hand.
Wisterias are beautiful, but I have always been worried I might kill them when pruning so avoided ever trying to grow one! Hope yours does well and the yew does not start sprouting from the base. As far as impulse purchases are concerned, I am getting better and more restrained as I get older! 😉
The yew is doing a bit of sprouting, but every time i see some green I snip it off!
Impulse purchases? Me? Never! (Just don’t ask me about all those plants in my garden that don’t go with the original color scheme…) The wisteria will be beautiful!
Thanks! I hope so!
LOL, my plant lists are littered with the names of plants that I couldn’t resist but that weren’t really suited to my dry sandy acid soil. I’ve decided to keep them on the comprehensive plant list on my garden spreadsheet, but struck through, so that I can remind myself if I’m ever tempted by them again that I’ve already made that mistake.
I think keeping the dead plants on the spreadsheet is a good idea but maybe I should go even farther, like erecting a wall with their names chiseled in marble, or at least concrete.