The Unloved

IMG_0789After yesterday’s comments I thought it only fair to show the unloved mahonia in situ – tucked away in the far corner of the woodland and growing to a height of at least 15 feet. When we bought the property in 1996 the mahonia was smothered in a Russian vine which we obligingly removed at the suggestion of the neighbour whose garden was rapidly being invaded. I suspect the mahonia was unloved even then and certainly had been neglected. Sometimes I think the branches have a certain architectural quality to their structure, but that thought doesn’t last long…

As planned, after raising the status of the unloved by displaying it in a vase I continued with snipping and trimming and gathered materials to make a Christmas Wreath for the front door:

wreath.materialsI have already mentioned the lack of holly berries due to recent pruning of our variegated holly, and it was obvious from up the ladder which bits the Golfer hadn’t pruned as they must have been out of his reach as well as mine! It didn’t take long to cut a pile of minimally berried holly, ivy flowers and strands of small leaved ivy – all that was needed to embellish the hoop of wire that has given good service for a number of years. After laying the holly evenly round the hoop it is then tied on with thin garden wire and the ivy flowers added and tied in a similar manner. The strands of ivy are then wound round and through the other greenery before a ribbon is added – less than an hour in total from picking to hanging, and even without the prolific berries of other years it still looks the part.


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25 Responses to The Unloved

  1. Very nice – my attempts at making a home made wreath don’t usually last very long!

    • Cathy says:

      Oh thanks Angie – I know the first time I made one I didn’t have a clue, but using the wire and long stems it’s actually quite easy. And nice that it’s all pickings from our own garden, of course.

  2. Poor Mahonia – that arrangement yesterday looked great. It’s a shame it’s such a tough plant because it’s become synonymous with town council planting. I once saw a TV programme where they said that most of the mahonias in the country were directly propagated from the original introduced specimen. Could you take a cutting before removing the main plant so you could plant it somewhere else and enjoy it again?

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for dropping in and your comments. I think there must be a Mahonia Appreciation Society out there somewhere – but whatever people say I still won’t like this particular specimen which I suspect was indeed planted in the era when it was popular in Council plantings.Having planted nearly everything else that is in the garden I feel no sense of ownership – so definitely no cuttings! 😉

  3. Chloris says:

    What a lovely Xmas wreath. Your unloved Mahonia may become more lovable if you cut it right down to the height you would like it to be, just above a bud on each stem in the spring. It will make it nice and compact instead of leggy. I had several neglected mahonias in my garden and this is what I did.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Chloris – the wreath is so simple to do and it’s lovely to be able to use just things from our garden. I am afraid Monday’s arrangement was the only nice thing about the mahonia and it could well be rescued if it was cut right back, but I think the only cutting back it will get would be prior to it being removed! I think it has only survived this long because it is tucked away in a corner and is way above my head height so I don’t really see it! Not that I am against all mahonias, I must add 😉

  4. Annette says:

    I’ll take the unloved one any time 😉

  5. commonweeder says:

    What a beautiful wreath. It is a good year for holly berries for us here. I haven’t made my wreath yet and you have inspired me to use some of my holly. No mahonias in Massachusetts.

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you – I meant to look back at a picture of last year’s wreath on the blog, just to compare. All being well the tree should be covered in berries again next year – although one year a flock of fieldfare got to them first! I could congratulate you on the absence of mahonias in Massachusetts but that would be unkind as I am sure other specimens and types are loveable 😉

  6. croftgarden says:

    I may be the one and only Mahoniaphile around and I can’t grow them! When grown well they are beautiful architectural plants and the flowers are stunning.

    • Cathy says:

      I can see how mine (not that I think of it as ‘mine’, which is part of its problem) could be architectural, which is one of the reasons it is still here, I think – and from other comments it is clear you are certainly not the only mahonia lover around! Strange how you struggle to grow them because they are a bit like old boots as toughness goes, aren’t they?

  7. Julie says:

    I have never seen a mahonia that big before! I can see why you feel that it has had its day – removing it will certainly give you a great space to plant. I have one that is big but a nice shape and covered in fresh leaves. The other is nowhere near as big as yours but just as leggy. I noticed that at Ickworth House the National Trust gardeners cut all their mahonias back to a stump a couple of springs ago, so I might try this in the spring and see what happens. If it doesn’t work I will be taking mine out too!

  8. Pauline says:

    Your wreath is beautiful, and all from your garden, fantastic.
    Your poor Mahonia just needs a good prune, if you look on the main stems you will see ridges
    circling the stem, if you cut just above the lowest ridge, next spring you will have lots of new little stems growing with beautiful fresh leaves. Do this a few times and you will soon have a lovely well behaved shrub!!

  9. bittster says:

    Love the wreath…. not so much the mahonia, but with my own garden’s evergreen foliage plant deficit, I won’t tell you what I would do 😉

  10. Your mahonia is certainly getting people talking!! I love your wreath, so simple and yet so effective. I’ve not got around to trying one yet, though at least this year I managed to buy some florists wire, which should help! As to the mahonia, I love them, but my motto is that if you don’t like it get rid of it, life is too short and there are way too many wonderful plants out there to waste space on something that doesn’t do it for you.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh do try and make a wreath – they are all the more rewarding when made in stuff from your own garden, not that I would have one at all if I hadn’t made it, I suppose

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