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Good Riddance Cancer Tree, Hello Kitty!

We cut down a malignant tree in the front garden this week. It was only a foot tall when my husband bought it for me years ago. It was labeled Viburnum Augustifolium, but I am not convinced that is what it was. Its evergreen leaves were quite attractive and some of them had pretty fall colors, but this was its only redeeming quality.

Its white springtime flowers were insignificant and did not produce berries. It grew large, over twenty feet tall, and that was OK with me. But its cancerous growth pattern was not. It spread from vigorous underground suckers, invading nearby paths and taking over a daffodil bed. Recently Lou and I examined the thicket of stems spreading out from its base and decided the massive plant had to go.

The viburnum had a strong presence in that part of the garden, and its removal left a large gap.

Opportunity! Now I have a sunny place for some deciduous hollies, which lack sufficient sun to produce their famous berries in their current woodland location. I will also move some coral berry bushes from another part of the front garden, for the same reason. A Japanese maple and a weeping blue cedar purchased during the bargain days of summer have been patiently waiting for a home, and they too will be welcomed to this area. 

I am never afraid to change things in my yard. If I had to live with all my mistakes, I would have a miserable excuse for a garden! But the lesson learned is to know what one is planting and what its future growth is likely to be.

I will post photos of the new planting area when it is completed. Meanwhile, here are a few photos I took in the garden this week. I'm not sure who is enjoying the fabulous weather more, me or the creatures who inhabit the space.Clockwise from top left: Fritillary on zinnia, oxalis growing through artemesia, moon vine, another zinnia in the wildflower area.
Buckeye butterfly

Gulf Fritillary butterfly

Long Tail Skipper

Close-ups of two leaves growing simultaneously on my Red Banana Plant

I'm not the only one drawn to the Red Banana plant! There are many anole lizards in my garden.

Finally, does this kitten belong to anyone out there? She has adopted us. We haven't had a pet since our last dog passed away last year. She is very friendly and likes to chase squirrels. If we don't find her owner, I think she will stay. Lou has never liked cats, but she won him over by following him around and helping him work on the house the other day. She put on sophisticated airs for this photo, but she is quite playful.All of my animals have had garden or flower names. Any suggestions?

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Reader Comments (30)

Hmmm. Petunia?

A Siamese cat is currently hanging about here. I've seen it a couple of times. Tommy chased him or her out from under the back porch tonight. I think that's the first cat I've ever seen Tommy chase. He was quite puffed up over it. The stranger must be young.

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

I live just North of 8 Mile Road in Southfield, Michigan in Metro-Detroit. I'm planning on moving many of my roses to the front of my house where they will get full sun and an Eastern exposure. I'm hoping they will really go wild blooming with more sun. Now they get very little sun and hardly bloom. Most of them were relocated here when I moved here in 2000. At that time there was more sun. If it's a nice day tomorrow I'll be in my garden moving my roses and planting some hardy mums I got on clearance for fifty cents each. Happy gardening to all.

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark Z

P.S.-Your photos are stunning. Love your beautiful garden.

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark Z

What a sweet kitty! Her eyes are jade-colored, like one of my cats. If you want to keep her, I hope you can. The Banana Plant photos and the Butterflies are spectacular! Sounds like it was the right choice to get rid of the Viburnum tree, but I'm not sure I would be that brave--I have trouble pulling out plants. Enjoy the new plantings!

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPlantPostings

You definitely did the right thing, there's no point in keeping a plant or tree that doesn't work. I like those photo's - lovely. Perhaps Jasmine might make a nice name for Kitty. I am getting a bit lazier perhaps with my gardening, although I will remove or replant something when I have to, too keep the garden looking nice. I think gardening is never - ending. Although large gaps left by big plants look scary, It is a good opportunity to move plants or try something new.

October 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Marigold (Mari for short)? Petunia? Myrtle? Magnolia (Maggie for short!)? Rosemary? Parsley? Sage? Soooo manyy options!!

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercatherine

She has a depth in her eyes that will draw you in, she is gorgeous...

Why are these poor animals always abandoned at the end of summer, it makes me wonder how they would survive if kind souls didn't take them in.

Good for you to cut down the tree, I need some inspirations, the previous owners have "gifted" us a few doozies also.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

It's too bad the Viburnum didn't work out, but having a new opportunity for planting in the garden is always fun. The previous owners of my house had planted a 15 foot tall and wide Viburnum about 6 inches from the house that needed constant pruning. That unfortunate plant was removed a few years back, and, like your spot, it gave me room for more part shade plants. The surrounding plants all gave a sigh of relief, too.

You have lots of pretty garden visitors still. The butterflies are gone here now. The little kitten is very sweet looking. How fortunate for her that she found you. I was thinking of names of plants with silvery gray leaves and maybe some green for her eyes, but most didn't sound pretty enough for her. It would be tiring calling her Lambs ears, Artemesia or Dusty Miller. :) However, Lavender or Sage would be nice names in the gray theme.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNorthern Shade

Good riddance to something like that tree...and yippeee for all the possibilities...love all the butterflies you have. I love that kitty and would call her Aster. I will be mailing out the seeds I promised this week...should be prime planting time for you.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDonna@Gardens Eye View

Cute kitty! What about the name Poppy?

The new plants you've put in where the Viburnum came out sounds more appealing. And yes, lessons learnt from mistakes should be cherished wisdom and never cause for misery.

Great attitude, and great photos too :)

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

OH! She's a beauty!!! Beauty Berry!! hahahaha! Maybe Beri? or Berri! I hope she gets to stay. Train her to leave the birdies alone! hahaha can that happen? Who knows. Love seeing your gardens Deb. It's going to be a beautiful fall!!

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEve

Oh yes, Artemisia, for the combination of jade green eyes, and silvery fur. 5 syllables is too many, so you'll cut it to ...? Missy to her friends?

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiana of Elephant's Eye

I really enjoy taking out shrubs I don't like. The new opening is, as you say, always a great opportunity.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Taking out plants that have started to drive you crazy is refreshing and gives you new space to work with. :) I love cats and grew up with four plus dogs. I like the name Luna. Her fur to me has the same greyish color as patches on the moon. Plus, her eyes seem so luminescent. They're the same color as a luna moth.

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

Amazing macro shots. Love the kitty!

October 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Gorgeous images and you're right about an opportunity. I'll be curious to see what you make of the now open area in your garden.

I am pretty certain that your suspicion is correct: that is not a viburnum. It looks like a Cherry Laurel, or maybe more specifically a Portuguese Laurel -- Prunus lusitanica. Aggressive, indeed. Good for you that you aren't sentimental about these things and have the sense to remove a plant that is not doing what you want in the the spot that you have it.

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie Preston

Good for you, moving a plant that isn't behaving! Always a lovely time, thinking what can be planted in its space. Your woodland always looks wonderful, this time though I love the photos of the butterflies and the kitten, do let us know the outcome.

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPauline Mulligan

I love your photography and the green eyes of your cat.

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSTileTTo

That's the beauty of gardening, we can keep editing year to year as the garden evolves. I love your butterfly photos, the colors are so rich, but the photo of the two banana leaves looks like a gorgeous piece of modern art! The kitten is beautiful, she has stunning eyes, and good taste in gardens too ;)

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

I always have mixed feelings about removing older/larger trees and shrubs but like you any regret is quickly overshadowed by the opportunity to try something new.

Love the photos of your various wildlife. I too have been kept company by salamanders and tree frogs all season, frequently taking me by surprise when I watered a container or moved a leaf!

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Chapman

How about naming her "Petunia?" Or you name her "Cat." My friend Carlos always wanted a cat named cat. I like the name "Cherry." I love cherry trees, the flowering kind. My yard is all white every spring with fragrant cherry blossoms.

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark Z

I am glad you find your new space to be an opportunity. Sometimes I get overwhelmed. Your kitten is beautiful and quite unusual with the green eyes and pale blue-grey fur. Somehow Bluebell popped into my head from the blue tints in her fur.

I love the texture of the red banana leave and that creature sitting on it!

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTatyana

I like Holly for the cat but also like Sage...

A few months ago we removed a Brazilian pepper tree that my husband planted some 20 years ago. Awful tree that is incredibly invasive and that tree started popping up in lots of places this year, so he was convinced it had to go. He is still pulling out new growths and the woody roots that are sending up sprouts, and will probably be doing that for a long time. I've never liked it and turns out it is on California's "do not plant" list. Definitely do your research!

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeannine

I'm not very fond of cats, but she looks beautiful, I could be won over! In your photo she looks almost blue, what about Laveder for a name, then you'd have lavender in the garden without thinking it will rot! Christina

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

hmmm, I quite fancy the name Jasmine for her. Like Christina, I dont usually like cats, but this one is very appealing and beautiful. I also love the photos of your wildlife, and am very impressed that you know the names of the species.

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercatmint

Great butterfly pics! Adorable kitty! She looks like a Sage, or Licorice, or Fern. But, actually, personality usually always decides the name!

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

The kitten looks adorable! Funny how they always seem to know how to make their way into our hearts. I was struck by your sentence about living with your mistakes would make a miserable looking garden! I need to remember that - I hate to pull out plants, especially ones that have been around for a while, even if the entire time I've not like them!

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHolleyGarden

I would call her Hosta.
Looking forward to seeing the new planting.

October 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterb-a-g

I think the kitty wants to be called "I'm yours", but when I saw her green eyes, I thought "Cricket".
Thanks for a lovely post.

October 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcia
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