I wish I had a photo of the side of the RV parking area before I put the pavers, privacy fence, and landscape of Bismarck palm and loropetalum hedge… but, sadly, I don’t.
In an effort to add tropical flare, I planted a bismarck palm to the left of the driveway. To semi-obscure the RV, the well, the outdoor fuse box, and an old horse birthing stall, I needed a hedge that I would plant in a semi-circle. I had taken some classes at the Spring Hill Campus of Pasco Hernando State College and remembered how much I admired the loropetalums (a.k.a. Chinese Fringe Flower) they had in the center of campus.
I had terrible luck and lost a lot of money from standard loropetalum trees I planted along the driveway on the edge of the horse corral. It was blazing hot and dry so they needed frequent watering. To make matters worse, the horses would just rip them out of the ground and toss them every chance they got.
There is one loropetalum (not so purple) that grows successfully behind my home that is now at least 15 feet tall! And, it has four offspring it seeded nearby. In my research for this article, I read that one 100-year-old plant has reached 35 feet tall. I decided to give the plant another try, thinking I will maintain it at or below six feet if humanly possible.
I planted them from small pots in full sun all day long. I always had it in my mind that I would plant something chartreuse in front of it. However, since they were so short, and I wanted noticeable layering, I decided to wait a few years before adding more plants into the design. Now that the loropetalum are a good four feet tall, I decided to move forward with the original plan and purchased 14 2.5-quart sized sunshine ligustrum. For those who are counting, the loropetalum grew about a foot a year (which makes sense since I have been here 18 years and the backyard loropetalum tree is nearly that tall).
Well, I started digging in front of both banks, shaking through the grass and weeds as I went. Three wheelbarrows later, I was able to rake the ground flat to prepare for the mail order sunshine ligustrums.
Fourteen 2.5 quart ligustrum plants arrived on Saturday well packaged in three boxes. The individual pots were wrapped in a plastic bag tied with a drawstring.
It took a bit to remove all the plants, then released them from their plastic bondage… but it was well worth the hassle. They were perfect. You think I would have learned from the near crepe myrtle disaster and let them harden off post shipping, but nope! I just brought them out to the planting area, gave them a very healthy drench of water, and proceeded to plant them in the ground. First, I laid them out with three feet spacing since they will grow to 3-4 feet in width.
Then, I dug the holes and plopped them in. No bagged soil. No compost. Just sandy central florida ground dirt. I also didn’t have to do much in the way of teasing the roots.
Once the plants were positioned to my liking, I pulled the truck of mulch onto the grass and pitchforked it into a wheelbarrow. After dumping about a wheelbarrow in front of each plant, I used a rake to level the larger pieced pine bark around each shrub. Don’t they look adorable? Look how the chartreuse lights up and pops against the darker colors of the mulch and the loropetalums.
What a difference that extra layer and pop of contrasting color make! Now, I’m thinking I may wait for these to grow a tad, and fill the front with purple salvias for even more depth! Stay tuned…