On the road, we often entertain ourselves by looking at landscapes. We admire nifty plants, pick out problem symptoms, comment on pruning, and sometimes debate the relative merits of one or another design.
Here's a bed in a landscape we debated recently. Our discussion ranged across four perspectives:
By our standards, this bed is overplanted.
Here is a diagram of what's in the bed now and each plant's potential size. For five years from now, check the bottom of this page.
So, one of us offered no objections to the other's first statement, "Well, that's going to be a jungle." Not so, the statement's continuation, "and the designer ought to be shot."
"Hey, maybe the designer's a novice with no idea how big all those plants are going to get."
"Well, maybe the designer didn't know. Or maybe eventual size didn't matter. The goal might've been an immediately full look. Maybe they're selling the house."
"So they're going to stick the next owner with a jungle!"
"Maybe. Or maybe they're planning to use some of the plants as they grow, move them out to other places. Maybe they got a good deal, 3 for the price of one. So maybe it could be thinned out as things grow. Or pruned."
"Humph. Tell me how you'd do that."
We did, ending with two workable futures for the bed and one certainty -- that there's no way to simply let this group of plants mature together.
If you're someone who's just discovered an overplanting you never ordered, you, too, may be able to save it by looking at our two possible futures for this bed.
More about why overplanting happens and how to avoid it in What's Up 156.
A stake in another issue
One last issue came up, not design related but something that could ruin this design by killing its main player. That is, the Japanese maple has been staked. The tree must be un-staked, and soon.