Garden Photo of the Day

We saved this tree!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Danielle Wotzak

Those of you who’ve been following the GPOD for a looooong, long time might remember a post back in September of 2010 when I put the fate of an old hydrangea into your hands (refresh your memory HERE).

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Danielle Wotzak

My brother- and sister-in-law had just bought a beautiful old house in Northport, New York, on Long Island, and Eric, my husband’s brother, was determined to yank out the old hydrangea that was looming over the entrance to his front porch. Danielle, his wife, disagreed. I was firmly in favor of keeping it, and offered to ask all of you what he should do. Well….I won! You guys loved that hydrangea (with a few exceptions), and it got to live!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Danielle Wotzak

It stands as the second-most commented-on post in GPOD history (second only to THIS POST). Today we’re back with an update. There’s a new driveway, and the house has been spiffied up quite a bit, and the hydrangea is as gorgeous as ever. Special thanks to Danielle, my awesome sister-in-law, who was on my side (girl power!) and supplied these pics.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Danielle Wotzak

This is prime time to take some photos in your garden. So get out there with your cameras and send some in! Email them to [email protected].

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Danielle Wotzak
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Danielle Wotzak

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  1. Cindy_at_enclos_ure 09/06/2013

    I'm so glad they saved such a treasure! I also love the very simple walkway around it.

  2. flowerladydi 09/06/2013

    The tree is FABULOUS!!! So lush and FULL of panicles!!!
    You certainly made the right choice!
    Love it!!!

  3. Mbrainard 09/06/2013

    Does it get brushed by cars in driveway? Absolutely beautiful.

  4. user-1020932 09/06/2013

    itis beautiful and i do like it IF it doesn't brush cars in the driveway or i don't have to duck to use the front walk. AND flowerladydi,,,,,,,,,,where have you been !?!?!?

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/06/2013

    Wow,what a beauty (and the paved driveway looks great, also). That "conversation" was before my time here at GPOD and it was fascinating to read the mostly save the tree comments. They certainly gave your sister-in-law lots of support and I hope your brother-in-law didn't mind being out voted so significantly.

  6. mainer59 09/06/2013

    I am envious of that tree! I have been trying to get a peegee hydrangea tree going for years. The first one succumbed to snow (too close to the driveway). The second thrived for several years but was dead this spring. I am now hoping a shrub one in a not so ideal place can be pruned up into a tree. It looks great after all the rain and maybe its placement isn't so bad after all as it shows from the road. Any advice on pruning a shrub into a tree form?

  7. Quiltingmamma 09/06/2013

    Well, I have to say, though the original thread was before my time, I would have been in the 'move it or lose it' camp. It is a beautiful specimen, and your family has done a nice job spiffing around it, but I am amazed it has gotten to that size in its location. I also wondered how anyone could drive under it, or walk by it.Sorry, I have this strong practical side of me. But in it's green and white glory, it is a lovely specimen. I am sure the girl team are very happy with their decision. Chalk one up for you and enjoy!

  8. debrees 09/06/2013

    Wonderful specimen. I would have saved it too!

  9. jettsrus 09/06/2013

    Absolutely stunning, without a doubt the right thing to do. Now, does this fall back In the winter?

  10. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/06/2013

    I remember that post well and am so excited to see the hydrangea alive and in it's glory. It's still vital and going strong. I love it and glad it was spared the axe! I would be happy to duck to get onto the porch, although it doesn't really look like one needs to.

  11. wittyone 09/06/2013

    My goodness has it been that long?!

    I've thought about that tree quandary now and then and am so pleased that the "keep the tree people" came out on top.

    Looks wonderful and I'm sure the tree is greatly relieved by its reprieve.

  12. MichelleGervais 09/06/2013

    I never have to duck to get to the front door, and I don't think it gets in the way of the driveway as much as the photo suggests. Dani, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think it hits the car as you drive in, and you park in front of or beyond it, so it doesn't get in the way when you open the car door.

  13. tractor1 09/06/2013

    The debate was prior to my time here too. First let me say that often people give little to no thought about what they plant and where, they go to a plant nursery and choose something immature that looks cute, never a thought given that it won't look that way when it grows up. Personally I'm of the opinion that I don't like large plantings right near a house, I definitely don't want trees were they to fall can strike the house, especially on hurricane prone LI... that tree in the front yard from what I can see of it looks too large to be there, might be a horrid silver maple, if so I'd remove it immediately. From what I see in those photos at this time I might have voted for a compromise, by removing the trunk on the driveway side. I would also keep it well pruned, I think it's too large for that spot and for that house. From the shadow it seems that house faces north, the front always in shade with the hydrangea reaching for what sun it gets on the driveway side. Still it needs somehing planted to the other side of the front steps for balance. But it's difficult to give an opinion from those photos, from the angle they're all shot they're kind of biased towards support of keeping that hydrangea, I'd need to see a full head-on frontal photo including part of the roadway... without viewing that property as seen from the roadway it's not possible for me to give an honest opinion (those photos are not very honest regarding a decision about retaining the hydrangea). Another point to consider is that for half the year that hydrangea will be bare, so I'd also need to see how it appears in winter. Of course it's not my house so who am I to decide.

  14. Canthelpmyself 09/06/2013

    Of course it's not my house so who am I to decide.


  15. hummergirl 09/06/2013

    Put me on the "glad-it-got-to-stay" list. That must be very old shrub. I am just rooting cuttings from one in my aunt and uncle's previous yard, and am really hoping to have one for myself in the spring. Theirs was even larger than that one! My aunt use to take buckets of cuttings to the "Holiday Bazaar" to raise money for their church. Anything that hardy and beautiful, deserves to live!

  16. hostaholic 09/06/2013

    I am also amazed that the hydrangea has reached those proportions in that location. I also have a somewhat practical streak but that is one gorgeous specimen and if it isn't a problem for cars I would have voted to keep it. Maybe it's because keeping a tree hydrangea alive out here on the prairie in MN is an unlikely proposition and of course we always want what we can't have.

  17. daniwotzak 09/06/2013

    Michelle, you are correct. We do not have to duck to get into the front door and we absolutely can park in the driveway without the tree brushing the car. So it is not in the way at all. Thanks for all the support!

  18. GrannyMay 09/06/2013

    A beautiful mature specimen like this one deserves to live on, if it can. Personally, as insurance for the future, I would also add a more dwarf version of it (or one grown from a cutting), somewhere where it would not outgrow its space.

  19. user-7006902 09/06/2013

    Yay! It's not very often the tree wins! It is obviously gloating, too, look at those blooms!

  20. Happily_Gardening 09/06/2013

    Hooray Michelle and Danielle! Goodness I was in Northport several times this summer - wonder if this was one of the many lovely homes I admired. Hydrangeas are lush and popular on the island, the perfect compliment to the beautiful old homes common on the East End.

  21. greenthumblonde 09/06/2013

    I remember that post! I'm glad it stayed but I do think it needs some balance on the opposite side of the house. That's one heavy mop on top and the house needs weight on the left. That said, maybe there is something in a bed not visible in these photos. It's just stunning. And I'm guessing those seed heads are amazing with a dusting of snow on top.

  22. beckysspring 09/06/2013

    I have never commented before although I have agreed and disagreed with things said here many times. After looking at the before and after pictures closely I see that there were other plants that did not make the cut. I agree there needs to be some balance to the front. It could even be a larger pot of annuals beside the front stairs. I am glad the beautiful tree was allowed to stay. My neighbor has one very similar to this and I wish I had one. I have been brave enough to comment. Someday I may be brave enough to submit some pictures. I look forward to the pictures and comments (I have a few favorite commentators)everyday! Thank you all!

  23. bsavage 09/06/2013

    That tree is just stunning... I am so glad they kept it! I probably would have bought the house just for the tree!

  24. daniwotzak 09/06/2013

    @beckysspring - Unfortunately the house was vacant for over a year before we bought it so we had to take out the other plants so we could start new and put in a driveway. I definitely agree the house needs balance. We are still under construction and working on the porch and the steps but more landscaping will be done hopefully in our near future! We would love to put some bushes/plants that stay green all year long in the front, among other things. We are open for suggestions for anything that can handle New York weather!

  25. sheila_schultz 09/06/2013

    I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong when I voted against keeping the tree... what was I thinking? I love the updates to the house, Dani, and I hope you are enjoying both your 'new' home and your very happy tree!

  26. bee1nine 09/06/2013

    Hi daniwotzak, This is a first for me as well, to view your
    glorious hydrangea tree and glad it STILL stands!
    Yes, I feel too, the house needs balance on the other side to
    help off-set the height of the hydrangea.
    May I also that you have a paved driveway, bet
    removing snow is a lot easier than before! So glad we finally
    got rid of our blue stone and had it paved.

  27. thegardenlady 09/07/2013

    It's a lovely specimen. Maybe not perfect in that spot, but it is what it is and it lends history and character to the house. Who wants perfect?!The house is great too. Maybe a smallish rhododendron on the left, joined by perennials such as phlox, maybe some sort of rudbeckia, think in terms of extended seasonal color?

  28. tractor1 09/07/2013

    thegardenlady: mountain laurel grows very well on Long Island, and there are dwarf cultivars that attain only about a three foot height/width. Of course azalea would work well too... but I'm partial to the huge blooms of laurel.

  29. cwheat000 09/07/2013

    This one was before my time. Where are all those old commentors now? The new paint job on the house and the driveway look great. I would have a real hard time cutting down anything that pretty. It does seem like it is even bigger than in 2010. If I kept it I would have to give it a hard prune.

  30. jlamf 09/07/2013

    Hey Michelle -- you really didn't play fair, asking a bunch of gardeners to vote on saving a beautiful specimen!

    I do worry about what it looks like in the winter though. FWIW, I'd put in an evergreen on the other side of the yard for balance. But then I'm the type who'd also get rid of all the grass! Please do let us see what they decide to do with the front yard.

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