Euonymus shrubs like the gnarly, twisted and sprawling mess growing in my front yard have never been a favourite of mine. Most of the evergreen varieties I have seen tend to be...well... gnarly, twisted and sprawling. In all honesty, euonymus was ugly to me. I ranked it second only to goutweed as a most hated plant. But recently I came to see the error of my ways. I realized that I had been judging this plant far too harshly. It was time to make amends.
I recently attended a City Shade Gardening seminar presented by horticulturalist extraordinaire Marion Jarvie at the Toronto Botanical Garden. It was most enjoyable and I took home lots of practical advice that I've already started to implement. It was during one of the lectures that I had a euonymus epiphany. The lecture featured images of some very lovely euonymous clipped into large topiary balls or towers. Marion mentioned that euonymus is sometimes criticized for being an unattractive shrub, but...and this is where it hit me....
it's not the plant that's bad...it's the gardener.
At that moment I was sure Marion knew my secret euonymus shame. How could I have allowed my shrub to get so out of control? How could I have neglected it for 11 long years only to turn around and blame it for being undesirable? I knew I had to act. Something had to be done. So I went out and bought some loppers (amazing what you can do with proper garden tools) and I got to work. It didn't take long to prune the euonymus back to a shadow of its former self.
By the time the pruning was done, the euonymus stood only about a foot high. It looked absolutely wonderful. Now I find myself looking forward to spring when it will start putting on some new growth. I hated this plant for so many years that I blinded myself to its many charms: leathery and glossy evergreen foliage, creamy springtime blooms, bright green new foliage and colourful fruit in fall.