October 24, 2020
Our yard plants have been going crazy trying to figure out what time of year we are in. After it had been cooler for two weeks, we had three straight days of 85+ degrees this week. Our Snowball bush decided it must be spring and flowered. I did not notice this yesterday but today the cluster is green at the base and the tops are already in a mature white stage. Oddly, there is only one cluster on the entire bush. I have noticed similar confusion with the flowers in the mailbox planter. While it did not surprise me when the mums started to bloom, our Naked Ladies have resprouted and the Hyacinth and African Daisy are in full bloom. Clearly, there is mass confusion whether it is Spring or Fall (i.e., Sprall).
While scientists attach Latin names to plants, most people refer to them by their common name. This can create confusion as similar looking plants can be given similar names. The name “snowball bush” can refer to a viburnum or a hydrangea. The old-fashioned snowball bush (Hydrangea arborescens), also called Anabelle hydrangea, produces large clusters of flowers that start out pale green and turn white as they mature. The Chinese snowball viburnum bush (Viburnum macrocephalum) is similar in appearance and also produces flowers that start pale green and turn white as they mature. While similar, the two plants are not related. The difference comes in height, bloom size, and hardiness. We have the Hydrangea.
After reading about the two plants and their differences I noticed a paragraph at the bottom of the article that talked about pruning. Apparently the two bushes are quite different when it comes to pruning. Hydrangeas should be cut back hard in late winter. This encourages them to come back lush and leafy in spring. Viburnums instead need pruning right after the flowers fade. If you wait too long, you could lose next year’s beautiful flush of flowers. While I do not know what went on with the bush prior to our return, I doubt if much thought ever went into pruning. I am sure that in the three years we have been back it has never been pruned. Somehow it has survived.
𝗧𝗛𝗢𝗨𝗚𝗛𝗧𝗦: I have spent a lot of time this year researching how to keep my yard plants and vegetable garden in shape. It was not that I did not care before, it was instead that I had not made it a priority. I have been surprised by the shear amount of information available. I usually start with an online query and that takes me to YouTube videos and other formats. That does not even address the more than 1.6 million books published every year (surely some are about gardening?). One of the anti-racist authors I read told of how a friend had mentioned how many books and social media sources were available on the subject. She told him they had always been there; he had just not bothered to look. We seem to be in our own Sprall moment in 2020. Rather than panic, we need to look for how we can create change. The information is out there once we make it a priority. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.