These snowball bushes are just amazing.  I wish we had a Dr. Seuss-like forest of them.  They are correctly called Chinese Viburnum, and shouldn’t be mistaken for hydrangeas which also bear the common name of snowball bush (which is why we need to use the latin words).

The habit is different between the two, even though they both have sphere-like flowers, and the Chinese Viburnum interfaces better with the tree-pee made to combat deer.


Taken today, this viburnum is at a little less maturity than peak.  Each snowball starts out light green and slowly whitens.


Have not noticed any evidence of a deer being near this tree-pee.  I consider this a cure!


Immature nandina are just behind the spikes that foil the deer.


A patch of ajuga blooms in one area.  This bush can reach 20 feet high; cannot wait!  It asks me for nothing bu protection, very easy.



Nandina (Photo credit: outdoorPDK)

So many people lately have been using the nandina pictures from this blog.  Hooray!  So as opposed to posting more simple pictures of the nandina in my gardens, here is how I think about the bushes in composition.

“Four Seasons” is the name of a work of art the late artist Marc Chagall gave to the citizens of Chicago in 1970.  It is permanently installed in the Art Institute of Chicago.  For fans of pattern, it is a masterwork.  Also for fans of Mr. Chagall.

What does “Four Seasons” have to do with Nandina?

Pattern sets up expectations in a work of art.  We see an organization of spots, for example, in one area of a painting.  When used in another area, the viewer says, “Yeah, I get it.  This is part of the same visual world, where the pattern is part of the language.”  The two spotted areas work together, or are unified.

marc chagall detail 4

Identifying the pattern on the side of this three dimensional work is easy. The yellow areas of tile organizes the work.  The yellow is repeated all over this side of the mosaic. The repeat of the yellow is part of the fantastic world that Chagall presents.  Within this patterned structure, he can include all sorts of figures, and the strong yellow pattern will hold them all in place, no matter how different they are.  And above, the blue shapes of the figures are very different in size and strength.

Pattern serves this purpose in an area as big as the one above, but also in the details.

marc chagall detail 1

The association of light blue areas next to figures suggest shadows, and serve to make the figures more dominant.  And also creates a subtle blue sub-pattern.

This is where the nandina comes in.  Having many gardens here, I use the repeat pattern of dwarf nandina to create a unity in the gardens, being careful not to push it too far.   Overuse would create a boring composition.  Nandina comes in regular size too, taller, and the use of the big ones can repeat the color and texture but not the size.  A mis-matched repeat.  All the better.

1-nandina at pool, tall

This tall variety of nandina within our walled pool area always retains more leaves in the winter.  Have no idea why.  It gets brilliant red and is topped off with even brighter red berries.

Visually, it carries on a conversation with the reddest part of my tile composition, which is about 12 feet from the bushes.

1-pool image, going towards red

Some of the plants at the pool are physically documented in the tile, not simply their colors.

1-pool image, acuba and tile

The same nandina as within the pool area is missing more leaves in another area of the acreage, looking more like a Dr. Seuss creation than anything else in winter.

1-tall nandina in circle garden

The dwarf nandina below is in the same garden with the tall.


To keep the dwarf nandina in little mounds, you have to move out the new sprouts.  Then make more pattern in different places in the yard.


The tiny red leaves above are new plants.  Use them to create more red pattern in other gardens, repeating a theme.  On the other side of the house,  a new garden was planted next to the bedroom that was added on.


The dwarf nandina has not gotten very red at all this fall, nor has the taller nandina bush to the right.  This place is protected on two sides.  In the tree-pee to the left is a pyracantha, which gets red berries in the winter.  This one is very young, and has not yet.


Deer eat this.  It will probably always have some sort of barrier around it.  Along the back of this garden is cotoneaster.  It has been there maybe 18 months.


When mature, it will look like this.


More red!


Misscommoncents nominated me as a versatile blogger, for which I am very grateful.  This characteristic is antagonistic to being a clear and easy voice on the web. Trying not to be, there is this thing though.  Some idea rises to the top and it will not be discouraged.  Even when there are other seeds of ideas, the purging of the dominant one just must be heard.  Exorcism.

This is my experience in visual art as well.  Often, it wastes a lot of time.

For this award, the obligation is to tell seven things about myself.  Since my writing is all over the place, hence the award, past blog posts might do the trick.

1.  Love art history…otally-the-guy/


2.  My digs are a composition, too.


3.  Love cats.



4.  South Carolina politics are simply absurd.

joe wilson

mark sanford

5.  I have the gene for colon cancer.


6.  Families have “stuff”.


7.  Love to garden.  All the time.


Many thanks for understanding my various interests, Miss Common Cents!


If you live in the country, having a snowball bush as seen below is a simple act of generosity to the deer.  They love viburnum.  And so do I.  Keeping this bush is a test of wills between my nature and theirs.    Below is my bush several years ago, first without protection, and then with a tree-pee over it to keep the deer out.

circular garden before teepee


The tree-pee works.  I also have them protecting a mimosa tree, needed only during the childhood of the tree, and two pyracanthas.   With the pyracanthas and snowball bushes, the bush and the tree-pee are becoming a single element.  No need to think about removing them, and it probably would be disastrous to do so.

entire tree-peeAbove is last spring’s bloom of snowballs.  Their green cast means this is a Chinese viburnum (snowball bush). And this bush is an early spring bloomer; the grass is not even green in the yard.  Below is my future with this bush if the deer will let me.


This bush is protected too, by an iron fence!

1-fall flat blooms

Above is today, late September.  This bush did this last year as well.  Several blooms have popped out, but they are not spheres, they are flat circles of flowers.  Cannot find anything on the web about this phenomenon.

fall bloom

Interested to nature’s response to climate change?  I recommend Barbara Kingsolver‘s “Flight Behavior”.  Amazing book.


If you could have seen this acreage years ago, you would not believe what has been accomplished.  The series of circular gardens were born out of our huge two night ice storm,  around 2004.

The damage was devastating.  It was the worst natural event that I was “lucky” enough to live through, even with Hurricane Hugo in our history.

As with my cancer problems, I turned the physical mess into art.  It was then that this series of circular gardens were born; for months damage was burned, FEMA picked up a lot, but some defined these gardens.  Removing the damage was turned into a creative effort, and it was then that work did not seem so awful.

For me, with cancer, and with other problems, it is all left to art.  Or sometimes running.  It is in these venues that problems begin to be understood, and it always takes physical involvement.  Maybe the problems just perspire away!  Finding huge fallen trees long and lean enough for me to haul was just what was needed to turn this huge problem into something i wanted to do.  And it was free!

There are six of these circles on this side of the house, and a long parenthesis-shaped garden along side the middle circles. There are spaces between them large enough for the lawn tractor to get through.

This is the front garden from the line of circles and the newest one in this area.  This is yesterday.  It has a getting-bigger-all-the-time snowball bush in the center, and it had two pretty fabulous snowballs this spring.  It is the only one of three that has survived.  The deer love this bush.

Behind the circle, you can see that there are three posts with blue bottles hanging on.  There used to be a cedar fence along that line, which we removed yesterday;  it was getting a little worn, and my husband found cutting around it less than fun.

We took the parts of the fence, and made a tee-pee over the snowball bush garden to hopefully keep the deer from getting in close enough to snack.  If they needed the food last winter, what would happen when we have a normal winter?  This winter, even my annuals did not die.

This is the same garden this morning, with a tee-pee like barrier for the deer.  I have tried this before, unsuccessfully, but this is bigger and stands a greater chance of fending off the deer.  On one side, for an experiment, one side was left more open, but at the base,  we put lots of cedar bits with lethal looking side branches, standing up.  This winter we will see which idea is more successful.

Below is a Yoshino cherry tree which has been battling the deer for several years now.  Today we will make a better, bigger barrier.  Poor thing has never bloomed.