Saturday, May 15, 2010

Shrubs, cubed

When I bought my home, it had a giant arborvitae at the corner, an overgrown honeysuckle on the west side, and 4 “cubed” shrubs under the front windows. I discovered that the largest of the cubes was actually a bridal veil spirea—a shrub that wants to flow and drape, like, um, maybe a bridal veil and not be constricted into a cube. They were all too close to the house, the front steps and to one another, so I took everything out except for the giant arborvitae and started over. (Oh, and the cubed shrubs were planted in 8 inches of river rock, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Last weekend, on my way home from Little League, I drove by a yard that had a long squared off “hedge.” I noticed some purple blobs and then some white blobs in the hedge, and then, I realized I was looking at lilacs, cubed! I stopped the car and just stared – not fully believing what I was seeing.

Why, oh, why do people cube their flowering shrubs?! Am I alone in my horror of this unnatural treatment of flowering shrubs?

I can see pruning evergreens to help them keep their shape. And, I appreciate a good topiary and have great respect for Bonsai gardeners. But, I’ve never understood making a flowering shrub into a cube—or a ball for that matter.

If anyone has insights into the practice of making cubes of flowering shrubs, please let me know!

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