Love at times needs to be tough

Contrary to my usual gentle way of working in the garden, this past fall I got tough. The reason is that some plants had grown out of control, literally, such as the dwarf Deutzia “Nikko” we have. Because of its petite size, the branches that grew close to the ground became badly tangled inviting fallen leaves to get caught in them; also, it was impossible to reach the weeds growing near the base of the plant. So, though a little tentative, I pruned it harshly. The result: profuse flowering this spring! Evidently, the unruly plant needed a severe action. True, I was somewhat drastic on the Deutzia, but properly and timely done, pruning, with little doubt, is a crucial gardening practice.  

Deutzia “Nikko,” the pint-sized fairly recent addition to our garden, is tucked in the same bed as the miniature crepe myrtle, for no particular reason except for some excitement by having an area containing plants which are much smaller than their regular-size cousins. Smaller it is indeed is, for in time, a mature “Nikko”  grows to only about one-to-two feet in height with a spread of two-to-four feet; the compact, low-growing habit, therefore, gives the plants a nice naturally rounded shape. Because of the small size and mounding appearance, plants are perfect for rock gardens, as a groundcover or to fill any nooks and crannies in the garden.

Late April or early May is when the shrubs bear brilliant white flowers in delicate arching racemes; each flower, which while is tiny individually, in clusters, the effect is spectacular. Since the bloom period is not very long, I make it a point to cut some flowering branches to keep in a small vase on our kitchen table.

Overall, Deutzia “Nikko” is a trouble-free, low-maintenance shrub to have; it prefers full sun but will tolerate many soil types; in fact, ours is growing in a rather poor soil which, for one reason or the other, I tend to forget to amend by applying some kind of fertilizer. Being deciduous, plants do become bare in fall but not before the willow-like leaves turn into a lovely burgundy.

Now that our Deutzia “Nikko” has performed remarkably after my tough action, I have become bolder and got the messy, overgrown ivy in the area over and around the mailbox pruned drastically, too; knowing ivy, I am fairly sure it will come back - lush and healthier than ever.  


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