To Prove I’m Hard-Headed

I’ve talked and written about this plant many times. You know that I look at hollies almost as members of my family. That’s why I bought a lovely $125 specimen and planted it near the corner of our house where I needed to hide some down spouting and telephone wires. “Oakland holly can do it,” I knew.

Parts of my lovely holly continued to look good. But what happened to the rest of the plant?

And then I did the unforgiveable. I forgot to water it for a couple of days one hot spell in the summer. My constant admonition on the radio is and always has been, “You have to water new plants with the hose. Sprinklers alone will not be adequate.”

But I guess I wasn’t listening to my program that week, because to my horror, I came home one evening and I could see the telltale olive-drab tone in the leaves. That sick “you-may-have-killed-me” color that dry hollies get.

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I rushed to the faucet (4 feet from my plant!) and soaked its soil deeply. And then started the nervous wait as it took up the water.

I knew it would be several days until I’d be able to determine how much damage I’d done with my neglect. When the final tally came in, my plant had lost about half of its inner twigs and a good bit of its symmetry. What had looked like a handsome little Christmas tree ended up looking like a green banana shot full of holes.

It took a long time for my little Oakland holly to fill back in, but it’s almost as good as new now. And I’m a lot more careful about watering new plants.

We park right beside this plant. I’ve spent five years feeling its pain. But I wanted to remind myself daily. It would have been easy to suck up the losses and buy a new plant, but guilt got the best of me. I decided to baby my baby back to good health, and finally, five years after it all happened, I’m proud to show it full-frame and admit to its story. My little beauty is making her comeback and I think she’s going to be fine.

Your takeaway from my story…
Water all your new plantings, hollies or otherwise, by hand for their first couple of years. You’ll be light years ahead.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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