Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pot-bound!


Regular readers will know that I like to report both my successes and failures here in my little garden, but sensitive readers might like to look away, right now. Read no further, for I am about to record one of my disgraces. Thank goodness there aren't jail penalties for pot-bound plants, because they might well say 'lock him up and throw away the key' with the evidence I am about to present.

Here's one of those gruesome-but-hard-to-not-look-at crime scene photos of the evidence. This is the tangled mass of roots of my outrageously pot-bound bay tree. Makes a nice wallpaper, doesn't it?

It was never meant to get this bad, your honour. You see, I was going to get rid of my potted bay tree last year, and use the pot in which it grew to grow a fig tree. Somehow I never got around to ditching the bay tree (my garden is tiny and there is only so much space, so adding the fig and keeping the bay was not an option). The bay had to go and that was that, and its pot is the perfect size and shape for the fig.

I think 'vigorous' would be a good word to describe a bay tree's attitude to growth and life. Look at the roots making their way out of the drainage holes. Poor things, all they struck once they escaped the pot was hard, lifeless, nutrient-poor pergola-floor tiles.

And so last Saturday the terrible deed was done. The bay tree was mercilessly cut down in its prime and replaced with a young, optimistic fig tree who knows nothing of the former occupant of its cell. I always think of potted plants as 'prisoners in a pot'. There are no pots in nature, just soil. And so it's a hard life in those confined spaces, where their roots can't roam free. No wonder some plants go stir-crazy in their pot and give up on life.

That bay tree was never going to give up, though. I suspect that despite the appalling treatment I dished out to it in its last years, that hardened inmate would have probably outlasted me in the long run. I can only throw myself on the court's mercy and beg to be let off with a warning never to do such a dreadful thing again. Everyone makes mistakes, and every time I look at a bay leaf I will feel a little pang of guilt.


9 comments:

Alexa said...

Wow that's impressive. It looks like a wild-woven basket!

You might need to prune the roots on your fig tree over time, they're known for vigorous roots too. I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes, I've always wondered how a fig would go in a pot.

Jamie said...

Alexa
I've been told by a few experts that figs thrive in pots, so i hope they're right. The other thing they love is limey soils, so I've potted up mine with some dolomite tossed into the mix. Of course it's winding down for the winter snooze now, so my first report will be sometime next spring or summer, I guess.

Chartreuse said...

Thanks for that reminder to keep a close check on the bay tree I've just planted (in a pot). I bought a small-size plant, and immediately repotted it into a pot probably of similar size to yours. Any idea how long it took your bay to outgrow that container?

Jamie said...

Chartreuse, it must have been about five years (yes, I was a negligent boy) so don't worry too much.

ATW said...

Jamie- Great Post!! I know it's tough to post shortcomings but we all learn from them. I need to check my eggplants now:)

Chandramouli S said...

The tree has woven itself a natural pot! Can't you prune the roots and repot it?
Well, I am a big-time criminal, for all my plants are potted and caged. Well, I have no other choice...

Melinda said...

I'm secretly relieved that you too make such blunders Jamie.

Anonymous said...

Jamie, all of your posts are interesting - the good, the bad and the ugly! You have an interesting way with words and excellent photos. I always enjoy reading your blogs!

Carol
Jacksonville, Florida, USA

Melinda said...

Wow, that's something! Despite the poor tree, I find the interwoven texture of the bound roots to look quite interesting.