Johnny Appleseed

Warning: This is a long, rambling post.

I know I have written about the many landscaping beds in my yard. In fact, my first post was about my umbrella tree. In case you don’t remember, I brutally pruned a tree from this 


to this.


I was sure it was much happier to be shapelier and trimmer, because aren’t we all? However, it turned out to be a bottlebrush buckeye which looks like this when it blooms


Photo from

You may notice that the bottlebrush buckeye’s natural form is NOT an umbrella shape. It’s also a shrub, not a tree. It turns out, I’m far from an expert on plants. On a continuum of knowledge about plants, I’d put myself about here


I have a variety of strengths and weaknesses in the landscaping world…actually a lot of weaknesses and very few strengths. I’m pretty good at weeding (as long as I know what a weed is), and I’m pretty good at planting and transplanting  (as long as I know when the right times are to plant and transplant). That pretty much exhausts my strengths.

Anyway, the real problem with my umbrella tree was that it was planted in a place it didn’t belong and so now it is forced to conform to a space that is too small for it’s natural shape and size. NOT MY FAULT you see. Now, it is living in a bonsai world.

Cut to this spring when I realized that the downside to unnatural pruning means that you always have to keep pruning, plus my umbrella tree was really lonely underneath. After hacking away all of it’s natural branches, it was left with…emptiness. The dogs decided it looked like a playground for them, ripe for digging dog holes and rooting around and whatever else is appealing  in empty plots of dirt if you are a dog.

Never fear, I am overrun with plants. I have beds upon beds. In fact, if you stacked them on top of each other, they would be like the Princess and the Pea, only less comfortable, a bit more green, and much more unruly.

So unruly, I’m quite sure they were seeded by the Johnny Appleseed of the landscaping world. Honestly, I can’t imagine someone had a plan for these beds. If they did, the plants revolted on their own and just up and migrated to escape being stuck with their own kind. These plants definitely do not believe in segregation. They appear to be part of the melting pot generation.

While I like a little wildness and unruliness to my landscaping, this is far beyond my comfort level. I feel slightly bad about my desire to force  segregation upon my free-wheeling plants, but some order is needed.

There are, however, two problems in the forced segregation plan. Problem 1: There are A LOT of beds (and even more flowers) and I’m a bit overwhelmed.

To get a sense of how many beds I have, here’s a (not to scale) overview of my property. Green blobs are trees, green shading indicates beds.


Yea. Where to start? I know I don’t need to get everything done this year, but it’s hard to know where to begin. Every bed is over grown and out of control.

Problem 2: If you refer back to the Plant Knowledge Continuum, you can immediately see that restoring order to the beds requires more knowledge that I currently have. First order of business–categorize nice plants versus weeds.

Some plants I can identify easily: hostas, ferns, and green things with pretty leaves are nice plants. Dandelions are clearly weeds. Other plants are a little trickier (Hey Judy–is this a nice plant or a weed? It’s a nice plant even though the leaves look like weeds. Huh.) I’m going to have to wait until things grow and flower (or don’t) to determine if it stays or goes.

Meanwhile, I’ve been weeding obvious weeds and I started some plant relocation. The umbrella tree got some new friends



with the addition of transplanted hostas and some nice bulbs. No idea what the bulbs are, but I’m sure I’ll find out at some point.

As I was weeding, I also found out that that I have a small stone path through one bed to the water spigot.


Which would be great except that someone planted a shrub/tree too close to the house/spigot and it’s in the way. (There is a recurring theme regarding inappropriate tree/shrub planting placement in my yard.)

To make a short story very very long, there’s a lot of work to do. And I have minimal knowledge to do the work. No worries…that means I get to learn more about nice plants and weeds and trees and shrubs. I like working outside; I find it peaceful. I just wish Johnny Appleseed had been a bit more judicious in seed scattering.


6 thoughts on “Johnny Appleseed

  1. Joan Piersall

    I have been helping my sister this Spring trim over 150 bushes in her yard and when she points out a weed I pull! This is nothing I love; but I do love my sister so I am doing yard work as she has just had hip replacement surgery and will not be doing any yard work for a very long time! Your post – I LOVE it!!!!!!


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