Usually it's an ordinary plant...

...elevated to stardom by unusual use.

Twenty years ago when we thought about something for this wall, directly across from our client's front door, we yearned for an espaliered yew we'd seen at the Arnold Arb.

Our description probably lacked in many ways, "We'll spread the branches and grow it flat, like big green fingers." And we could only guess how long it would take to realize the vision, "It won't be instant..."

Yet our client had confidence in us, so for about 15 years we've been truly enjoying the result.

We snapped its picture this fall, before and after its annual pruning. Really, we prune it just once a year. We might get by with a biennial clip but for the importance of an annual rescue from encroaching Boston ivy.

This year we pruned in November but generally we aim for August or during a winter thaw.

 

This ordinary plant gets extraordinary notice from passersby, who ask, "Is that just a yew?!" This year, we're using its success to remind ourselves that sticking to our design resolution number 5 will be worth it: We shall strive to use dependable, "usual" plants in unusual ways.

Even if such use wasn't fun, it's so much better than saddling anyone (including ourselves!) with the extra work of finding and learning to care for exotic things.

See it when it was just planted? Did our client cut us some slack, or what?! We picked this particular plant for its fanned branches planted it, and pruned it just a little. When stood back and looked at it all we could say was, "It'll grow!"

p.s. #1 We apologize for the shadowy "before" photo, top left. Shadows can be so confusing to the eye. However, we're gardeners, with work to get done. We wish we could but almost never can let the work wait for a day with perfect lighting.

p.s. #2 After 20 years, must we continue to cut it? Well, it could get a wee bit big for the spot.