It was sheer coincidence that the first big box garden centre in Montreal opened up at the same time that I moved into a home that needed a large flower bed. So excited was I to discover that the centre offered a vast assortment of perennials, at ridiculously low prices, that I made it a ritual to visit there on a weekly basis to fill my fledgling garden.
That same year, when I made the last shopping visit at the end of autumn, the perennials were finally sold-out. In their place was the remaining inventory of ornamental shrubs, reduced to one dollar each. How could I ignore such a bargain? I purchased six Euonymus shrubs, three solid green and three variegated cream and green, figuring that I might find a use for them the following season. At such a reasonable price, I considered them a safe investment. Eventually, I used only four and planted the remaining ones up against the bare foundation of the house, in the side yard.
In the second year of growth, I noticed that the Euonymus in the side garden had taken a peculiar turn. Instead of developing into traditional squat and roundish shapes, they had affixed themselves to the foundation and had begun to grow slenderly and vertically, as if it were in their DNA to become vines.
Years later, when a new neighbor installed a privacy fence on our shared property line, I placed one of these upright foundation plants [Euonymus Emerald Gaiety] against the new wall as a first step in camouflaging its appearance. The posted image [Euonymus is on the left] demonstrates how vigorously this shrub can grow when it mimics a vine. In my garden, it became one option of many to hide the boring fence. The concrete foundation supporting the fence is 2 feet high and the fence itself is 7 feet tall. Together, they create a wall measuring 9 feet in height. After three years of growth, the shrub has surpassed the foundation as well as 5 feet of fence, totalling 7 feet of vertical height. That's quite an accomplishment for what I thought was a squat shrub!
As fence covering, Clematis is prettier and less expensive than Euonymus at full price. However, both will establish themselves in the garden quicker than fickle Hydrangea vines. While my plan is to cover the fence with mostly Clematis and tall growing perennials, I rather enjoy the effect of this solitary variegated Euonymus. By supplying texture and visual interest, it adds a pleasant optical break. Sure wish I had more Emerald Gaiety to repeat the theme. Perhaps I ought to propagate my Euonymus. Sticking a branch into moist earth has been successful in the past, if I do it in spring, when the weather is still cool.. Now, if only I had the time….