A long way off

As winter temperatures become more regular and strolls become more brief, I am uncertain if enthusiastic thoughts of additions to the garden lengthen or lessen the seemingly interminable period until spring. Few gardeners, I suspect, look to the next growing season with dread. Most, and I lead this charge, are certain that the year to come will be the garden’s best ever.

Today, I consider a large project to convert the small, but ever damp and weedy lower lawn to planting. A small area of lawn can be a large garden, so the idea is intriguing, and held back for the moment only by the reality that this will necessarily entail a lengthy path around the perimeter. I am not overly enthused by the prospect of leaving a swath of grass as the path since it seems inevitable this will decline quickly into mud. Stone of some sort is the answer, as it is for other paths in the garden, but those were constructed years ago and now there is little enthusiasm for long journeys through the rear garden with stone filled wheelbarrows.

Brazilian orchid tree

As always, I look forward to the digging, first removing the lawn, then planting, and of course to the added space so that a few Japanese maples in pots can be be moved into the ground. A very questionably cold hardy Brazilian orchid tree (Bauhinia forficata, above) will overwinter in the greenhouse, but this space should be ideal to put it into the ground if the soil level is raised to improve drainage. Though I say that there will be no rush, I have little doubt that the new planting area will be quickly filled.

Several dogwoods have been planted this year, all past flowering at the time, so I’m anxious to see their first blooms. The evergreen ‘Empress of China’ (Cornus elliptica ‘Elsbry’, above) is planted most prominently after waiting years to find one taller than knee high, and two Pagoda dogwoods (Cornus alternifolia, below) were planted to add height to already planted areas. Both are a bit too close to paths as they grow, but the tiered branching of the Pagoda should be ideal for walking beneath after the few offending branches are snipped.

Pagoda dogwood
Leaves of ‘Scarlet Fire’ color splendidly and hold late into the season.

I look forward to the first flowers of ‘Scarlet Fire’ dogwood (Cornus kousa ‘Scarlet Fire’, above). Photos show deep red blooms, but a pink flowered ‘Satomi’ rarely displayed more than a slight blush on white flowers, so I remain a skeptic until otherwise convinced. After years of decline in ever increasing shade, ‘Satomi’ was chopped out in late summer. A second serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) was planted in its place, and perhaps the addition will encourage pollination and fruiting instead of only flowers.

Two areas where aged evergreens were removed should show more robust growth in the second year for the recent plantings. I try to remain patient after repeated warnings that the evergreen Wheel tree (Trochodendron aralioides, above) is very slow, but with another eight inches of growth I might be satisfied that it makes a show. Several more eight inch growths will be necessary before I am happy, and I look forward to the day my wife complains that the Wheel tree obstructs the view from the kitchen.

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