A garden fills up quickly, and I thought I had the solution to this problem but of course I do not.
I thought, in my innocence, and in the light of the experience with my former garden (which was full of things such as a 60-year-old pecan tree I did not really want but lacked the courage to cut down) that I would have no problem at all with the new place provided I planted nothing - absolutely nothing - that I did not desperately desire.
There are a lot of viburnums, to give you an example, but only five that I was sure God would not want me to forego (Vv. juddii, tomentosum mariesii, wrightii, setigerum and tomentosum plicatum), and it seemed only fair that I could also add V. opulus sterile, the snowball bush of one's childhood that accounted for much dawdling on the way to school.
Undoubtedly, if kids nowadays have a route to school that goes through a lane lined with snowball bushes and wild persimmons, they are much engaged in spring and fall just as we were. The persimmons were not as good to throw as the viburnum snowballs, but then they were better to eat. Things even out.
Anyway, I showed great restraint with the viburnums, with the dogwoods (only one), the witch hazel (only one, and a glorious one), and only one rhodedendron (the variety Scintillation,' which is not supposed to get too big) and, to be brief about it, there never was any gardener in the world who carried on more than I did about a plant before actually acquiring it.
The crabapple was a trauma I hope never to live through again, and only the fortunate death of 'Almey', a rich red-flowered crab, solved the matter. I had wanted 'Hopa,' a fragrant pink, but thought it too common. My crabapple advisers warned against 'Almey' in the first place.
Its health record is not very good, but fortunately it up and died and I instantly got 'Hopa' instead, though it is by no means utterly foolproof either. The crabs the great authorities keep recommending frequently do not have fruit of any consequences, and I will not have a crabapple that does not have crabapples in the fall, and cannot imagine why anybody else wants the ones that do not fruit.
Roses were not so traumatic, because I allowed myself to have several, and besides, I knew from the start that no matter how many I planted, there would be literally hundreds I would have to pass up.
'Climbing Sutters Gold' was a difficult choice, since I wanted it very much, but I was not fanatical on the subject. 'Madame Alfred Carrierre' and 'Madame Gregoire Staechelin,' on the other hand, were no problem at all, since I knew that if I continued to breathe at all, I intended to have them. Especially the pink Mme. Gregoire.
And so it has gone, through peonies, day lilies, water lilies, lilies, conifers (only two kinds of yew, two kinds of juniper, a couple of dumpy retinosporas and maybe one or two others), grapes (only 'Buffalo,' 'Steuben,' 'Monicello' and 'Villard Blanc,' though I may be on the verge of acquiring 'Alden' without any place to grow it, simply on the grounds that life owes me 'Alden.')
And yet though great care and agony has gone into every selection, I am already out of space.
I could not have even contemplated a tamarisk bush (one of those shrubs or very small trees that one cannot manage without) except for the happy circumstances that a rose, 'Bloomfield Dainty,' died and made room for it.
Fortunately the rose passed on before I had to decide what to do when it met the Carolina jasmine, since they were trained up opposite sides of a lintel over a walk only five feet distant from each other. The tamarisk will not wish to clamber over the lintel as the rose would do, and it will be at least three years before the jasmine confrontation occurs.
In the very nick of time, my anger at a white climbing rose, said to have been 'White Dawn,' arose and led me to chop it down and grub it out.It was a wretched being, and the blooms balled in wet weather (what other kind of weather is there in spring when the fool thing bloomed?) and it was excessively grudging with flowers later, and it flung itself about with health and assurance as if it were ready to assume the world. Which is fine in a great rose, but pretty intolerable in a rose of no consequence. So out it went in time for me to work in a Foster holly and a Sargent crabapple (oh well, I do not count this as a crabapple since it only gets to six or eight feet, and moreover has yellow leaves in the fall, so it qualifies as a foliage plant).
Most of my plants are very small. The Sargent's crab is only 12 inches. The Leyland cypress is 13 inches. Betty-baby (Clematis 'Lady Betty Balfour') is a year old. The cuninghamia is 6 inches.
The garden looks empty and wretched. And yet there is hardly any place I could plant anything major, and very few places I could plant anything minor, come to think of it.
But in the last three years what miracles have occurred. I remember well when Madame Gregoire (the pink rose) was soaking in a mixing bowl prior to being planted, and now she flings great thorny branches 12 feet long. Another year or two and she will be reaching her best, which is very good indeed.
The great single red rose 'Dortmund' has grown 8 or 10 feet and is weaving its way through some white spiraeas as planned, and within a year or two will flaunt its glorious color over the spiraeas and wood fence on one hand and up over a window in the white brick wall on the other side. All according to schedule.
The white-striped miscanthus grass fountains against a black wood wall, with the glaucous plume-poppy in front. Exactly as planned.
The gorgeous weedy grass from Italian ditches, Arundo donax, rises over a fat clump (a treasured gift of a fellow gardener) of the gross and beautiful Japanese butterbur, Petasites japonica, which nobody to speak of would want, but which (if you do want it) can make for a quest until you find it.
Already the magnificent bush of the China rose called 'Mutabilis' which was planted two springtimes ago has reached 10 feet. As I knew it would, though the nursery in California kept arguing it wouldn't grow here.
A great wit once wrote that as a child she was intrigued by Marvell's line. "Rye pappels drop about my head," and was sorry later on to learn the line is "Ripe apples drop. . . ."
Rye pappels, she always thought, were more mysterious and wonderful. Ripes apples (and I speak metaphorically, since apple trees are a ferocious waste of space) are good enough.
The natural world, as they say, is good enough. Especially if you get (and gardeners can do it) to plan it.