Details: Introducing the Botanical Comb-Over

I don’t want this to come off as a rant… but time and time again we roll up on a situation in the garden.

Something we really, really wish had never been born — or had been drowned at birth.  I’m talking about irrigation gear installed loud and proud right at the front door or the air conditioner that is featured dead center of the best view on the property. Something that’s awful (from an aesthetic standpoint) but indispensable (from a functional standpoint).  Something you can’t simply demolish and remove — yet is too expensive to move. For these situations the only recourse is what I refer to as the “botanical equivalent of a comb-over”. Yep. You heard that right! The botanical equivalent of a comb-over.

utilities with arrow

This lighting transformer and other gear — located smack-dab at the edge of the driveway mere steps away from the front door — are prime candidates for the botanical comb-over

Backflow-Preventer-revised with arrow

This garden would definitely benefit from a well-executed botanical comb-over to edit the backflow prevention device from the composition

ac unit revised with arrow

Often the best solution for air conditioners in the garden is the botanical comb-over

Sometimes plants alone are insufficient to hide a particularly tricky offending object — that’s when you go for the botanical comb-over with a mechanical assist.

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Wouldn’t you just love to edit the neighbor’s roof out of this view? This is the perfect  situation for a botanical comb-over with a mechanical assist – a structure that supports the comb-over plants, such as a fence panel or trellis

trellis revised

Consider a trellis similar to the image above… the structure allows you to surgically excise the offending object, placing the botanical comb-over plants exactly where you want them to perfect the view.

Now, the botanical comb-over is a rather advanced landscape move that requires a deft hand. As with the familiar man-do, there are better and worse botanical comb-overs… There are several comb-over pit-falls to avoid…

comb over disaster

Going too sparse with the covering material will result in a less-than-ideal botanical comb-over…

gary oldman comb over

Featuring  the comb-over is rarely successful…

second level comb over

And you can definitely go too far with a comb-over…

elderly man revised

You’ll want to make sure that your botanical comb-over is stable and stays put…

trump with cat over

And finally, sometimes trying to hide what’s actually going on under the comb-over just draws more attention to the issue…

So, what makes a good comb-over plant? It has to be evergreen (don’t want your comb-over to be seasonal). Dense and vigorous (don’t want what’s underneath peaking through). And, for me, I’m looking for something that’s not too flashy so it recedes into the background.

Here are some of my favorites — they may strike you as a bit pedestrian, but they’re good and reliable:

Trailing Plants

Trailing Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostrata’ or similar variety)
Trailing Rosemary
(Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostrata’ or similar variety)
Ground Morning Glory (Convolvulus sabatius)
Ground Morning Glory
(Convolvulus sabatius)
Shore Juniper (Juniperus conferta 'Blue Pacific')
Shore Juniper
(Juniperus conferta ‘Blue Pacific’)

For Trailing or for Climbing

Purple Lilac Vine (Hardenbergia violacea ‘Happy Wanderer’)
Purple Lilac Vine
(Hardenbergia violacea ‘Happy Wanderer’)
Miniature Grape Ivy (Cissus striata)
Miniature Grape Ivy
(Cissus striata)

Upright Plants

Fern Pine (Podocarpus gracilior)
Fern Pine
(Podocarpus gracilior)
Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
Bay Laurel
(Laurus nobilis)
River Wattle (Acacia cognata)
River Wattle
(Acacia cognata)


Next time on The Art of Outdoor Living

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