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....


  1. Tina,
    Really nice post I have to be honest before reading this I saw nothing good about RT now I see the possibilities.


  2. I bet this is the same thing I see all over our town! I wondered what they were with their pretty red tips!

  3. What a wonderful pant! Evergreen, red tips AND flowers? Sounds like a perfect plant. I've never seen anything quite like it! I guess I don't really worry a whole lot about leaf problems on my plants either unless they're dying from it.

  4. They are looking good Tina! Red tips do make a great hedge for privacy. We don't have any currently but I'd be tempted to put a few in in some spots.

  5. Hi Tina --so glad you posted the picture and story --this was the plant/tree you recommended to my friends up the way. I was wondering what it looked like --very nice. And, I could totally see it as a hedge --so glad yours is doing so well. I didn't realize most of your yard was shaded --that could be good with swimming in the summer --less sunburn:)
    Hi Jean --I'm so happy to hear your flowers are blooming so nicely. I will be turning GREEN when you tell me you have some lilac inside:0) (just kidding) but you know I LOVE, love, love the smell and mine are done already.
    Better get some laundry folded --cold morning here --we have the fireplace going --I thought we were done burning it for now but I guess not --it feels good:) See you all later!

  6. Good morning to all you great folks
    reading this.

    WOW!!!! I love it. It is just an absolutely magnificence looking shrub but if it can get that big you could even call it a tree. Don't think I have ever seen one before so probably does not grow in the cold winters in Maine. :<(
    I sure would love one to grace my yard. It is truly gorgeous without flowers so that is just a bonus.

    BTY Tina, been meaning to tell you a couple of things...Remember my Forsythia that you split up and planted in different places when it had to come out when you and Mr Fix It tore the old deck of and built the new one? Well they are finally growing and are just so pretty this year. Also it was just last week that we talked about summer camp. Well I just read this months Northeast (the Diocese of Maine monthly newspaper) and there are 2 pages on the coming camp season. You can check it out at www.bishopswood.org

    Hope everyone has a good day. No sun here today afterall. Rained all night and will today and pretty hard most of the time. Good news for us. Once the sun comes out now it will really make the tree buds pop out and that will help protect from the dryness we have had. We had 7 brush fires in the state in 1 day last week.

  7. Hi Tina, like Gail, when I read your title I thought, oh no, how can I comment something nice about a plant I don't care for? Well, your engaging writing and description of a plant you obviously love won me over. I especially loved all the personal feelings you have about former houses and growing up with this plant. That makes a big impression, the plants you grow up with, remembering what you associate with pleasant, loving memories shades our feelings for trees, shrubs and plants. I have never met a gardener who didn't mention that their parent grew something, or loved something, or a neighbor had one and they were so nice....For me, it is the pyracantha, some people dislike them, but we had them at my childhood home, and one has always been planted wherever we have lived. Thanks for a touching story about a shrub that I now like!

  8. Hi all! Another lovely day to garden. Too bad I have to study for finals. :(

    Gail, You and Frances are thinking alike on the red tips but they are really great shrubs! The only fault I find is they get too big! But some might like that.

    Skeeter, These probably are and they must have white flowers all over them now?

    Cinj, Leaf spots are ok. I am not such a picky gardener as long as it doesn't harm the plant and glad to hear you think that way too!

    Dave, I would be out there planting them right now to give you a border if you desired. I like mine and yours looks kind of wide open. Maybe borrowed views which is nice? Red tips are relatively inexpensive. Another bonus. They grow fast.

    Anonymous, This is exactly the shrub I was recommending to your neighbor for their pole. The pole can grow up through it and they'll never notice it nor have to mow around it. If the pole needed to be climbed it would be ok to get to it thru the photinia as they are forgiving and not prickly. I never cut the lilacs for inside this year but did give them away to visitors. I have instead enjoyed your love of them and hearing about them. I do smell them when I walk by. Does that count? Yes, cold today.

    Mom, Red tips seem to be a southern tree but I did not research it up there. I don't see why it wouldn't work but some things that grow here like Leylands don't grow there. Of course you have the spruces so that is nice. I'll check it out.

    I am also going to go to Bishopwood's site. It brings back memories. Seems so long ago. Wonder where Christy Lynn is today?

    Frances, So glad I could convince you on my red tips. Do you know I LOVE pyracantha? Especially the orange berries and I don't mind thorns. But I don't have enough sun. I would love to try it espaliered somewhere someday, but it would really languish. Neat you plant it everywhere you live. Do you take cuttings or dig it when you have moved? It grew well in NC and in Germany. I haven't dug anything to move but do take cuttings from my mother's gardens and others along the way. None of my previous houses though. Sad to leave a garden and then go back to it.

  9. Hi Tina, no I don't take cuttings of the pyracantha, just buy new ones. They are inexpensive and grow fast. I have a line of them along the chain link fence behind the shed, about thirty feet, planted with six trees. They have gotten huge, at least fifteen feet tall. I keep them cut against the fence on my side as far as I can reach with the pruners. They are covered with flower buds right now, just starting to open. They come alive with the buzzing of bees when in bloom. The berries are pretty but the birds eat them immediately, which is fine.

  10. Frances, I know the pyracantha are lovely and I hope you'll do a post on them.

    Mom, I checked out the Bishopswood website. Hard to believe it hasn't changed at all. Was your camp named Camp Merestead? The girl's camp? Gotta go to my finals. Wish me luck. Stopping by to see Uncle Rick and Aunt Mishi as they go home tomorrow. Mr. Fix-it's work has also allowed him to visit.

  11. Hello Everyone, I hope your day so far has been a lovely one.
    Tina, the red tip is a lovely shrub. We had it as a hedge in front of out old house. In the Spring with the tips & flowers it sure was a pretty hedge. I went by there the other day & the people that live there now has pulled it all out. What a shame. I noticed to that they had stained the cypress that was the siding of the home. Looked horrible. I had planted trees in that yard from Tn to Fl. They are really big now.
    I like pyracantha too but not enough room here. Saw it at a friends house in N.C. & it had grown all the way up her chimney. It sure was pretty.

  12. Hello everyone…
    Spring sure has us all active...
    Good luck with finals Tina!

    More cleaning for me today. I finally have all the pollen and cat hair out of the house! 6 ceiling fans, floors, carpets, dusting furniture, wall hangings etc. And found time to mow the County Right of way across the street. As cool as it is outside, I decided to use the push mower. I was able to get more with the push mower then with my Red Rider. It was funny, I was pushing the mower away and the Saint came up to see why it was taking me so long and he was standing there watching as I humped my rear. I am sure all the neighbors coming home from work were getting a kick out of that! LOL.... I can hear the men now, “He sure has that one trained" LOL what they dont know is I love to do yard work....

    Going to be another cold one tonight. My neighbor said she is going to put blankets on the horses tonight. They have lost their winter coats. We found a lot of it in the birdhouse today when we cleaned it out! Half pine straw and half Silvers white horse hair! House now ready for second brood of bluebirds…

    Two appointments tomorrow then back into the garden I go Thursday... Yippee...

  13. Late post tonight, love this shrub. We sure do need something like that up here.
    Zack has permission to bat and run while he has his cast on. Yah!! He feels better.
    Tina, finished tonight, my tech expert showed me how, left a note in your mail. Good luck with your finals.

  14. Hello all, running late today. I do like this shrub and have seen in at a couple of homes around this area. I have several of the pieris shrub that you have mentioned in the past. The new growth on them is red also.

    Hope everything went great for you this evening.

    I have covered all the tender plants tonight. Next year I have made a promise to myself - nothing planted or set out until after May 1st. The "old timers" always said nothing planted before Mother's Day. Sounds good to me!!!! It has been so noted in my journal.

  15. Tina the name of my camp was St. Thomas and only 2 or 3 miles from Bishopswood. Merestead was the name of Bishopswood before the Diocese of Maine bought it. Going to St. Thomas from Calais we had to go by Merestead. In the summer of 1961 Farther Clark (St. Thomas's director) got all dressed up in his priest garb and went to a big meeting in Camden. A lady was giving hundreds of thousands of dollars (they were hoping) for the Maine Diocese to buy Merestead.
    I guess the metting went well as she did settle on it (there were other things in the running) Do you remember the FBI tv progran? The star was (I know I will not spell it right) E......? (not even gonna try the first name)Zimberlist, Jr. It was his step mother that gave the money .... and... speaking of stars....

    Does anyone get the Parade magazine in their Sunday paper? The main story in it this week was about Patrick Dempsey of Grey's Anatomy TV show and many movies.
    Well, he has a home on the same road that I live on about a mile from me. He is a very nice and friendly, down to earth person. He was brought up about 30 miles from here and his mother still lives there.

    So Dawn does that mean Zack will be at the Mt. Ararat game and is it on the 3rd? Let me know as we will go. Also is it right after school and if not, what time. That will also be Brian and Stevie's birthday.

  16. Hi Tina --hope all went well with the finals. It was a cold day here but a great day to get things done.

    Hi Jean --I'll have to check out the article on Patrick Dempsey --that is awesome that he lives right by you -same road --too cool!

    Hi Dawn --I am thrilled for Zack to be able to hit and run. I know that will make things easier on you as well. Less complaining from the fine young lad --he will at least feel like he is still doing his part =so GREAT NEWS!

    Hi Nina --I guess I will use not getting my beans in because I just knew there would be more frost:) Hey, I tried right??? hahaha Actually an older lady from church told me she always waits until after the 20th of April? Not sure why -just guessing it's usually a safe time --frost free time.

    Hi Lola --sorry the new people in your old house tore out stuff --I sometimes peek at places we lived locally just to see if they are mowing like I did:0) Hubby asks me WHY???? Well, I see it this way --I put in alot of hours on those yards, rofl.

    Oh Skeeter --your neighbors looks would be as priceless as mine tonight while I was trying to get out a tree stump. I didn't get it out but I sawed it down to the ground --actually below ground level and my neighbor then chainsawed it down the middle. I had boy number 2 help me put fresh soil and grass seed on it and it looks great now. That was so nice of you to mow the area that was getting out of control. Tomorrow is picnic and fun day for the girl model --should be interesting. Last year we played with a large parachute and blew bubbles --can you feel the excitement??? hahaha The part I look forward to is picnic with just my girl -daddy will keep the sidekick with him --they might go try to catch a few crappie. I guess I should stop writing this book --see you all later:)

  17. Oh Anonymous you are just too cute!!! Have a great day with the girl model.

    Tina and Dawn I forgot to tell you but the house Patrick Dempsey bought is the one that John McGee owned. He bought it 4 or 5 years ago. There is a guest house that goes with it and his mother stays in it quite a bit.

  18. Hi all, Thanks for best wishes on the final. It was not bad at all.

    Hi Lola, Too bad about your old house. It is hard for me to visit old houses, though I do.

    Skeeter, You are a busy one! That is too funny-horse hair all in the bluebird house? They are gone already? I think they'll have three broods this year as it is early.

    Dawn, Good job on the post. Glad Zack can play baseball. You should set up a profile. It is easy.

    Nina, We say every year-never until May 1st or whatever, then what happens? Out go the plants. Sigh. I did not cover and left the houseplants out. Hoping for the best and being optimistic.

    Mom, That was it! St. Thomas. Couldn't remember. I adore Patrick Dempsey and love the show Grey's Anatomy. He is pretty good. It is exciting having a star live close by and good he is a great neighbor. I do not know John McGee.

    Anonymous-Ditto on what mom said! Have a super day tomorrow with the girl model. You'll get your beans in, don't worry. You can write as many books as you want. Night all!

  19. Tina John McGee was Kathleen McGees father. She was probably a little older than you but would have been in high school at the same time I think. The big house with the stone wall (only 2 or 3 feet high) in front, not too far this side of the school but on my side of the raod. It is right after the house that has the gorgeous pink and orange azaleas.

    Stars come here all the time. John Lennon looked at Katherine Merrill's place over by Arnnie's but did'nt buy it as he said it was
    not private enough so he lives and gets killed in NYCity. Merriii's place was on about 20 acres of land and way off from the beaten path. Did you also know that Brian washed wine glasses for Brook Shields when they came into the Marina one time. He was so excited when he came home from work that night!!! Also when Cindy Croaford was married to Billy Joel they had a place on Bailey's. But most of the stars just come in to the marina for gas and to eat.

  20. Tina, have you ever tried to root cuttings from a photina?

  21. Good morning all! Finals went fine and today is a garden day!

    Mom, Maine is a lovely place many people want to live and visit. It is not surprising so many come there and I did know about Brian. Star struck for sure! I think Christie Brinkley is who you are thinking of as being married to Billy Joel. I love his singing. We saw him for free in Germany when he did an outdoor concert. I thought it was nice and the kids loved it. They were WAY up front at the stage. I do know that lovely house on the corner by the school. I have always admired it. The one with the pampas grass you so love?

    Dave, I have not tried rooting photina cuttings. Would it work? If you would like some I am happy to share!:) I like cuttings because they grow so fast. But last summer I rooted about 6 special cuttings of two favored crepes and was SO proud as it was difficult. I was a bit deflated when a more experienced gardener came and simply said, "It is so much easier starting them from seeds." That is it for me and the crepes-so I am careful on rooting things besides perennials. I would think photinias would root though. I know cleyera does and it is similar. I am trying to root some red J. Maples because I had so many pruned branches due to their trying to put forth so many suckers. That might be worth it but I heard seeds also work for them. I need to get that book you use for propagation. As I do not have one.

  22. Oh Tina you are probably right about Billy Joel's wife...I really do not keep track of that kinda stuff but do know she was a model.

    What gets better than seeing stars shows for free? I saw Bob Hope and Lynn Anderson for free in Ottawa, Canada in 1976 or 1977.

    Nope, wrong house. It is on the same side of the raod as my house.
    The Pampas Grass is either on Patrick Dempsey's house or the house before his, can't quite picture it right now for sure. But after I went to bed last night it popped in my head how you would know the right house. It is the one with all the grape vines in the center of the lawn on the south side of the house.

    Glad your finals went well but then I did not doubt for a second that they would'nt!

  23. Congratulations, Tina. I knew you would do fine.

    Anonymous, Have a great time with girl model. These times are short--enjoy all as before long she will be grown.

    Hi Dave & Jean & all the rest. Have a great day.