A Critical Eye Part 3, One of the Other Bits: Fig and Hosta

Other things have got in the way of a third part of this critical review of the garden – including new projects, which always seem to take precedence over ongoing maintenance – and, instead of there being just one final part, the Fig and the Hostas now demand a post to themselves. On this occasion, the critical view and new projects have become inextricably intertwined.

All of my hostas are in pots, but the perennial problem of slug control has increasingly made me aware that invariably those that suffered least (and often minimal) damage from slugs and snails were those not located next to other foliage. Might the answer be to ensure none of the pots were next to beds and borders where those pesky molluscs could be hiding and waiting to pounce? A number of them are the side of the house, close to the back door and against a retaining wall at the base of the mature hedge that borders one of our boundaries. You wouldn’t think that slugs and snails would be happy under a prickly holly hedge where the soil must be very dry, but they must have found something that they liked as some of the hostas here were eagerly devoured very early on the season – particularly my collection of miniature varieties. Of course it would take a slug less time to devour a miniature hosta leaf than it would something like H ‘Sum and Substance’ or ‘Big Daddy’, and most of them were quickly reduced to stumps.

A decision was quickly made, combining two solutions which were easily and fairly quickly carried out: dismantling the raised platforms that displayed the miniatures and moving the collection to the other side of the house, close to the ‘shady courtyard’ (see map under ‘The Garden’ tab above), and simply moving the larger hostas to the other side of the house, against the wall of the house. The latter involved moving the bird feeders, currently hanging under the guttering outside the kitchen window, to a new support next to the hedge but still visible from the window.

Miniature hostas on their original plinths

the plinths are no more

a grouping of larger hostas at the base of the hedge

some of the the miniatures in their new location

some of the larger hostas now placed against the house

Between the hostas and the gate is The Fig, planted around 16 years ago in a large pot partially sunk into the ground against the house, where it has thrived. Some years we have a large number of ripe figs from it and sometimes we don’t, but I have to confess that although an avid devourer of dried figs I am not very keen on the fresh variety. The tree itself has all but outgrown its location and must surely have burst out of its pot many years ago, in which case what might the roots be doing to the house?

The fig seen from the gate (note the patch of new paviors filling in the gap vacated by the miniature hostas)

I do like the green and shady effect of the fig, and it is much admired by visitors on our open days, who enter the garden underneath its canopy. They will be surprised and perhaps initially disappointed next year, however, as the fig is gone… We, though, have already had our own surprise:

Cuting the fig down filled our green bin and half a big bag, leaving a few chunkier branches to go to a neighbour for firewood

Astonishingly, there was a only a small piece of root outside the pot, which remained intact! Might it actually be possible to remove the fig without damaging the pot…?

The challenge became personal and it wasn’t a 5 minute job, but between us success was eventually achieved!

It still beggars belief that this large and relatively productive fig could have survived all those years in such a confined space. We all know that figs need their roots retained to encourage cropping, but we would perhaps have expected a fig of this size to require something rather larger than this pot, which is no more than a 12″ cube. Yet another of Nature’s miracles, I guess – and we have a survivor of the miracle, a useful and intact pot.

We also have a useful space and not surprisingly I envisage another project…

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14 Responses to A Critical Eye Part 3, One of the Other Bits: Fig and Hosta

  1. bcparkison says:

    Can’t you replant what is left.? I love fig….all …ripe and dry and jelly…and cookies as in fig newtons.

  2. I didn’t know a fig needed to be root bound for good production. I have a fig. It produces most years but I don’t even know how to tell if the figs are ripe. I just love the leaves. The rabbits have eaten my fig down to nubbins most winters so it looks more like a shrub. Your pot is great. It is nice that you could save it. All of that space. Can’t wait to see what you do with it.

    • Cathy says:

      The figs would have a bit of ‘give’ to them and would start taking on a brownish tinge (the Brown Turkey figs would, anyway). We were in two minds about taking it out, but have no regrets now it’s done

  3. Heyjude says:

    I figured out pretty much the same regarding hostas. I only have the one and it is in a large pot, but underneath the fatsia. I swear snails abseil down onto the hosta! The vaseline around the rim of the pot seemed to work for a time, but eventually the snails arrived. I used nematodes for the first time this year in April and I think they did have an effect on the slug population. I might try that again next year. And move the pot to the middle of the patio!

    • Cathy says:

      I used nematodes for the first time too, but not at the start of the season. I need to get a spray attachment before I use them next year as the watering can kept clogging up!

  4. Cathy has done very well by moving hostas away from other plants where slugs and snails could come from. It would never have occurred to me to do so. I hope your hostas minis are not too much food and can recover next Spring. As for the Fig tree, I am sorry that you removed it, but you also recover a large space and an intact pot. I look forward to a new project. Surely it will be fabulous. Greetings from Margarita xx

  5. I have a feeling that the Golfer has been charged with overtime destruction/construction work. Please be kind…he needs time on the green to keep that can-do attitude.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh John, this did make me smile as I know the Golfer’s well-being is important to you 😁 Never fear, he has a morning on the course to prepare him for his exertions in the afternoon! Hope all is well with you and Mrs V

  6. I think the hostas will be happier in their new home against the pink walls, a fabulous colour combination. Do you wish you’d left the fig now you know it wasn’t harming the house? Mind you can’t put it back! I wonder what next?

  7. tonytomeo says:

    That is crazy that the pot survived! I would be inclined to dig a hole somewhere to bury the stump with just the tip sticking out. (Perhaps that is why I have such a problem with 14 fig trees now.)

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