It’s always insightful to hear someone else’s “take” on one’s garden, especially if it’s Martha Stewart. Her interest in our use of euonymus (pronounced u-on-a-mus) as a design element caught me a bit off guard; no one had ever mentioned it. But then again, that’s why Martha is Martha.
When she asked to visit my garden (while she was staying with mutual Newport friends) of course I said “yes” – and tried not to double think the litany of things that needed work, clean-up, re-planting, etc. One could drive themselves crazy! Maybe I could keep the hyper-ventilating down by taking my own advice – a garden is always a work-in-progress, that is part of its charm and draw for gardeners…never perfected. But that doesn’t detract from the pleasure of overall views (i.e. here from our library with an evergreen euonymus hedge as a backdrop).
Frankly, having had our gardens all settled in now for, lo going on 17 years, I’d taken it a bit for granted. But Martha’s comments prompted another look and think on my part and I realized that in all my days of touring gardens, I’d never seen euonymus used in other than a single planting.
Here at Parterre, they are to be found in every garden… euonymous japonicus Grandifolius serves as a very important 8′ green wall to the southern side of our winter garden (also as seen above), to include a bower for my initialed bench…
tightly clipped hedges to the four parterres in front of the Orangerie…
euonymus japonicus ‘Silver King’ forms obelisk-shaped centerpieces to the two beds in the Black and White garden…
…and soon a variegated euonymus will be adding climbing interest to the trunk of a tree in the woodland, as in this example in a friend’s garden.
The overriding take-way is that this serviceable and reliable plant can be used, and indeed works wonderfully, in establishing the “bones” of a garden. From ground covers to low hedges to foundation plants to climbers, the many cultivars of euonymus are an overlooked garden asset. A major plus also is that it’s an evergreen and hardy in our coolish climes (horticultural zone 6B); it actually has a large growing range-zones 5-8 and up to 11. That’s not a small consideration. And the leaves come in many shapes and sizes, as well as shades of green, gold, white as well as variegated; shown above and below is euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety.’
I love the statement that variegation makes in a setting of all shades of green, with fall colors as a backdrop.
Euonymus is not fussy about sun vs. shade but will show its best color in full sun.
The euonymus in my garden happily join and augment other garden features, like a large white-flowered American beautyberry…
or a clipped boxwood in the shape of a French brioche.
And euonymus also adds to the whimsical notes scattered throughout the garden… “Benjamin Bunny”, sitting atop a limestone pillar, clothed in little leaf euonymus that will soon be covering him for spring.
The “caterpillars” (tightly pruned euonymus fortunei ‘Moonshadow’) whose diagonal features create separate growing beds for blue pelargonium ‘Roxanne’.
Or as a garden mate to a giant Angelica, in full bloom.
Intrigued? Euonymus definitely deserves another think, especially if you are looking for those hard-to-find winter interest plants, as here, to give a spot of interest to the cap of a pedastal.