What plant should I buy?
April 1, 2005 12:28 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to get a plant to remember my cat Pat by - he is buried in my yard, and it would be nice to have something marking the place. But I know nearly nothing about gardening.

The yard is fairly small, so a tree is out. The plants I've managed to keep alive in the yard are all of the plant them and leave them variety. I'm in the north of england, so it's got to be fairly hardy. The yard doesn't get much sun but Patrick's spot is one of the best. There's about two feet of soil before you hit clay. I'd like some sort of shrub, I think. Flowering would be nice. I've got a buddliea already. Any ideas?
posted by handee to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
Nepeta cataria. Catnip. Make a shrine to which other cats will make a pilgrimage.

There are instructions and tips in lots of place. Try these: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
posted by pracowity at 4:08 AM on April 1, 2005

Forget-Me-Nots. Plant in sun/shade, just don't let them get too dry.

posted by Jikido at 8:25 AM on April 1, 2005

I actually came to suggest catnip, but while I'm here I'll go ahead and offer another idea: it might be kind of nice to place a cat garden statue there.

I'd like to offer a plant idea, but I'm not familiar enough with colder-weather garden plants... Chrysanthemum, maybe? Also, if you have any sort of historical home /museum / landmark-and-grounds sort of place nearby you, go visit and pay particular attention to what sorts of plants they have used for their landscaping. This may give you some ideas for things that grow well in your climate that don't require constant care.
posted by taz at 8:38 AM on April 1, 2005

How about a Hosta?
posted by suchatreat at 9:58 AM on April 1, 2005

I would plant something that would live much longer and be a bit sturdier. Maybe a small tree - so you get a bit of Pat for many years ... fig, or maybe a small peach tree - they both produce fruit even when they're tiny. Meyer (sp?) Lemons produce fruit year-round in some climates and are very sturdy in shrub form. We have one planted over our parakeet and a kitten.
posted by luriete at 10:23 AM on April 1, 2005

Have you considered a red fern? Seems appropriate.
posted by SlyBevel at 11:05 AM on April 1, 2005

Forsythia maybe? Perennial, welcomes sprint with vigor, as large or small as you want it, and very tolerant.

Pic here... http://www.plantyfolia.com/photos31/forsyens.jpg
posted by kc0dxh at 11:59 AM on April 1, 2005

catmint (nepeta) is good, in the catnip family. the one I have is really easy to take care of (snipping will keep it blooming). (and I live in NW Vermont where it gets 20-30 below in the winter)

plus there are a ton of varieties. it is a perrenial so will die back in winter (not sure if you want that or not).

hostas don't like full sun, so depending on how bright that spot is, they may or may not work.

if you wanted something more like a shrub, to last longer as luriete recommended, then maybe something that attracts birds. not sure what is native to where you are, but generally berrying plants attract them (viburnum I hear are good, and there are smaller varieties). I figure that is a good fit for a kitty! :)
posted by evening at 1:03 PM on April 1, 2005

Rose of Sharon/hibiscus syriacus is pretty cold hardy and some varieties are not as large as others, so you have some options in overall size. Some of mine bloom from late spring right on through the first heavy frost. Many bloom from mid-summer through frost. Heavy-flowering, sturdy, cold-hardy and non-invasive. They tend to be taller than they are wide, which would be helpful in your yard.

I would not second the forsythia reccomendation unless you like pruning as over the years they get very large. Also they only bloom in the spring and you sound like you would prefer something that blooms more.

Some type of weigela might work although they are not as long blooming as the rose of sharon.

Physocarpus opulifolius 'Monlo' is a wonderful shrub which has beautiful white flowers in spring, maroon foliage which does NOT fade much during my hot summers, and fall foliage which becomes more of a brilliant red.

There are literally thousands of azaleas and rhododendrons that might work in your yard, depending on how much light that area receives and hot hot your summers are. Most only bloom in spring but you have the option of decidious azaleas with brilliant spring blooms and in some cases, amazing fall foliage or evergreens, some of which have leaves that turn burgundy or other interesting shades for winter.

Ilex decidua and some other hollies are loved by birds for their bright red berries - some holly berries go mostly ignored by birds so you might research any particular variety before purchase.

Witchhazel is an option. Interesting large leaves and nice fall color. If you can find it, 'Diane' is an excellent choice which has beautiful red flowers when almost nothing else is blooming in late winter/early spring and some of the most beautiful fall coloration of any shrub. They are somewhat slow growing so it would be wise to get as large a shrub to begin with as possible. When they start to get too large, you can easily prune them to make more of a tree-form shrub, as mature specimens look amazing when tree-formed.

A clumping type of bamboo such as fargesia murielia could add an element of the tropics to your yard. Stay away from running bamboos such as phyllostachys. Fargesia nitida is another fine choice and if your temps do not get below 15 degrees F very often, Bambusa multiplex 'Alphonse Karr' is an EXTREMELY attractive choice. Clumping bamboos spread outwards slowly and you can easily knock down new shoots to control their spread and encourage them to stay in a tight area.

I am not that familar with what is commonly grown in England so I am not sure as to the availability of some of the shrubs I have listed. A couple of the things I linked were from a UK site, so I know you could find them.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 2:10 PM on April 1, 2005

Japanese maple is another possible suggestion - from moderate to very expensive but you can get some which will never make a very large tree, have interesting bark and foliage. Some have exfoliating bark, some have strangely-clolored bark, variegated leaves, maroon leaves, etc.

Acer palmatum 'Sango-Kaku'
or red-barked Japanese maple is an excellent choice whith beautiful red bark (gorgeous in winter when everything else looks dead), interesting leaves which turn an interesting shade of yellow for fall. They do get big over time but only over a LONG time.

Acer palmatum var. dissectum atropurpureum is another fine choice.

There are hundreds to choose from.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 2:19 PM on April 1, 2005

I would add that the dissected Japanese maples have a weeping appearance, which one might find appropriate to place over the gravesite of a cherished pet.

Buddleia alternifolia is another weeping choice, although it looks best if pruned each year and you already have one buddleia. Alternifolia only blooms in spring as well.

Of course one thing to keep in mind is you will be digging a large hole for a large shrub or tree. And depending on depth of the burial site.... well, you might not want to disturb the remains. So that is something to keep in mind, although you could always go a couple of feet away if you plant something that will eventually cover that space anyway. If you have room.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 2:25 PM on April 1, 2005

Actually the monlo might not be the best choice, despite it's beauty since like the forsythia it can get rather large in spread over many years and you might not like the pruning...

I'm stopping now, I swear.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 2:27 PM on April 1, 2005

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