Here is a picture from behind the front lines at the battle for the vegetable garden. This is a tea plant (Camellia Sinensis). I was talked into said tea plant during my visit to the Callaway Garden plant sale.
Each year I resolve to go to the plant sale and sensibly buy the things I actually need; plants for which I have a spot that needs to be filled. Plants which help me fulfill my garden plan. Each year, I come back with all sorts of oddities that I somehow decided I must have after being talked into them by excited vendors...people who LOVE these plants and assure me I can't live without them. I always buy at least two or three of these totally unnecessary, can't live without them, fantasy plants. And are they miniatures? Of course not.
This year I bought the tea plant ( a small shrub or tree really) and a fig tree that needs a twelve foot spread. I then came home and wandered about the yard holding my plastic pots with gangly plants, looking for any place they might actually fit. Should I put the fig in by the house? No, I think the Oak Leaf hydrangea will just swallow it...it's well on it's way to swallowing the house. Down by the cherry tree? Nope...too big. Behind the barn? Blake will just complain about mowing around it. At the back of the field? Nope...don't want to fight the blackberries and Lord knows I would never water it. This is the little game I play after the plant sale. Buy first, think about whether you need it second! Like any good American, this is my motto.
Anyway, back to the camellia sinensis: when asked, the vendor told me that tea plants can grow quite tall, around 10 feet or so, but could be kept pruned to a smaller height if desired. He forgot to mention that in addition to desire, time and energy would be required. Of course, what am I worried about....have I ever let a plant escape my control? (Does this picture of the tea plant hide the raspberries?)
Anyway, since it is a food plant, I decided to put it in the vegetable garden on the corner, in the hopes that I can and will keep it pruned to the correct size for its spot. You may be wondering whether this is a good idea since the tea plant may get quite large and might overshadow the vegetables. But have no fear. I put it in a corner of the garden so the sun will pass in front of it all day and it won't shade the other plants. I think along with a few other vertical accents, it will anchor the garden and make it aesthetically pleasing as well as hopefully producing some tea.
Now all I have to worry about is the deer. They seemed to really enjoy the last camellia I bought. I assume so anyway since they ate it to the ground. I put cedar branches around the tea plant every night to keep them from destroying it. Will that work? I don't know. I can't imagine it would be fun to try to eat a cedar branch.
Anyway, I hope it keeps the whole thing from playing out like does in my mind. (See Below for one of my Morbid Gardening Fantasies.)
First Deer: Oh, I say Reginald, is that tea I spy? Right there, in the vegetable garden old chap.
Second Deer: Why Archibald, I believe it is tea.
First Deer: Reginald, wouldn't you say it was about tea time?
Second Deer: Archibald, that's the very thing! Let's have a spot of tea, shall we?
First Deer: Indubitably.
Watch this space to see if my morbid gardening fantasies come true or if I manage to outsmart the deer.