A few chilly nights have started me thinking about next year. Every time I walk by the Korean Sweetheart tree (Euscaphis japonica, below) I envision next spring when it will almost certainly grow another foot or two, and perhaps I’ll enjoy its first blooms. While today it is hardly taller than the mass of competing foliage, next year it will stand above where it can be appreciated.
I have too little patience to start with small starts of any but the most desired treasures, but I am intrigued by a tiny twig of Bird of Paradise tree (Caesalpinia gilliesii) planted in a bout of enthusiasm in our recent rainy August. I read varied reports of its cold hardiness, so it will be protected by a leaf filled basket this first winter. A small area was cleared of a wide spreading clump of toad lilies (that were potted for giveaways), and while the small tree is barely ankle high today, I have high hopes that it will burst into growth in the spring. Probably, this is overly optimistic, and like the Sweetheart tree it will be another year before it makes much of a show.
The newly started planting area bordered by small boulders has been filled with temporary placeholders. Two tender mangaves will be dug and potted to be brought indoors for the winter, with a pendulous branched witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis ‘Lombart’s Weeping’) arriving soon to be planted as a permanent resident. Branches of the witch hazel will cascade over the boulders, and I foresee the time when the area must be expanded to contain the spreading witch hazel. The slight slope will be excavated, and more boulders placed, with niches filled with succulents and perhaps a few sturdy alpines. This is a longer term project, but once the witch hazel is planted I know I’ll be anxious to see its few winter blooms.
A number of native and terrestrial orchids have been planted to join ones planted in recent years that have become favorites. Several Lady Slippers (Cypripedium, above) are due for arrival in a few weeks, and these must be placed with care to avoid the late summer woes of of this year’s planting that suffered in the late afternoon sun. These will be moved once a new location is figured out, and this is likely to involve the transplanting of several old-timers to make room in a prominent spot for the newly favored treasures.
As soon as it is dormant, probably in early November, an unusually variegated redbud (above) will be dug and planted. The addition of the tree will require the removal of a columnar spruce that has struggled in slightly too much shade, and deep soil that remains a bit too damp for the conifer despite its planting on a slope. Various deciduous azaleas (below) planted nearby will enjoy the increased shade from the redbud that is already eight feet tall, and two spider flowered azaleas ( Rhododendron stenopetalum ‘Linearifolium’) will accompany the witch hazel to be planted close to the redbud.
The garden remains a work in progress, even in its thirty-first year. Though I worked straight through this year’s pandemic when many others found garden inspiration in their isolation, I was similarly inspired, and while much remains of this year in the garden, already I am anxious for next spring.