Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Red Tip Photinias
The 'Red tips' are absolutely outstanding this year! Even my little red tip has done so well it is blooming! This is the first time in the nearly five years I have had my red tip that it has bloomed. Let me tell you a little something about red tips. When I returned from Iraq in July 2003, the first thing I began doing was planting, in EARNEST. I really went kind of wild with planting. I had not been able to do planting like I wanted to the whole 20 years I was in the Army due to the constant travel and moves around the world. Sure, Mr. Fix-it and I owned our homes while we were stationed stateside, but we always knew it was only a temporary home, until we hit Fort Campbell.
We diligently hunted for an acceptable house that would not only house our family (then a 16 and 7 year old), but would house us for the rest of our lives. After much hand clenching and stress and frustration while living in an on base guesthouse, we finally found 'our' home. Both boys approved, especially the oldest, Brian. He was to get a master suite all of his own! As a bonus, it was downstairs; which I am sure made him happy because he was theorizing about sneaking out at night and being able to sneak back in too! We know those teenagers-huh Brian?!
Anyhow, we finally got our home and moved in. Come August it will be seven full years we have lived here. We have always, always loved our home. Every bit of it. For me it has mainly been the garden and the land, all one acre of it. I do certainly love the inside and there is nothing I would change about it. That never happened in my previous homes. There was always something I would structurally change in those houses, but again, they were only temporary. We are permanently home.
The one thing this house did not have was boundaries. Out here one yard seems to extend into another. This bothered me. I wanted boundaries and structure and I wanted to feel safe and secure in my paradise. All of my previous homes were in subdivisions (easier to rent out when we were stationed elsewhere) and had boundaries. Now I come to the red tips. Red tips are evergreen, fast growing ornamental shrubs. I had a hedge of them when I lived in North Carolina in my very first home. I was fortunate enough to buy that house from a few people who just happened to like to garden. Lucky me! The red tips were my favorite as they were planted in the front yard between my neighbor's house and mine. They were well maintained and large and colorful. They made a perfect boundary while still being friendly and beautiful. Back when I bought that house in the 90s, red tips were very popular. It seemed every single yard in North Carolina had a few red tips. They were so popular they were overplanted and became prone to disease. Leaf spot. Red tips have somewhat fallen out of favor since the 90s because of overplanting and leaf spot-but not for me!
I bought the pictured red tip as a little guy in a one gallon pot almost as soon as I stepped off the plane from Iraq. I planted it in this "Northside Shrub/Mixed Border" and forgot about it. Each year I would note it was growing, and growing fairly steadily and nicely. Occasionally I would hand prune it for shaping and for fullness. Now, like with children, I look at it and see it is full grown! How did that happen?? It is the perfect foil for structure between my neighbor's yard and my yard even before I added the privacy fence. If I could, I would probably plant a whole hedge of these red tips. They are really not practical for me though because they prefer full sun; whereas I have mostly shade and NO full sun anywhere on my property. Despite this fact, the majority of the red tips I have planted (somewhere in the neighborhood of one dozen) have done well.
Red tips, Photinia fraseri, are super hedging and accent plants. They can get to 10-15 tall and wide, especially in full sun. I see them around town as an accent or specimen plant and very few hedges of them. Too bad as they are great hedging plants. The fungus induced leaf spot is not a major problem. The leaf spot will NOT kill the shrub and I find it only to be a minor inconvenience with aesthetics. I do not spray or treat my red tips and hardly notice the fungus. It is there though.
When you drive around town in certain areas, and around Nashville you might not easily identify the red tips because they are covered with white flowers and are in full bloom. They don't look quite like mine in the picture above because this one had not yet come into bloom and even now it has sparse blooms due to the shade it is located in. I have never seen such a glorious display of white flowers on red tips as there is this spring. They are truly outstanding.
in the garden....