What’s new

This garden diary documents the growth of plants over three decades, but also changes that have expanded the garden to cover most of what was once an acre and a quarter of mowed pasture. Additions were made slowly while our two boys (and dogs) required room to run and budgets were more limited, but planting (and patio and pond building) picked up up after college expenses were behind us.

With plans for semi-retirement a year from now, additions to the garden have ramped up as a possible slowdown with a more fixed income is anticipated. I look forward to the new year, but am quite pleased with plants and new planting areas added this past year.

A few of last year’s new plants

I was overjoyed to find two pagoda dogwoods (Cornus alternifolia) of good size to plant in the understory beneath taller trees. One will require pruning, but both fill spaces that demanded a taller shrub. I’ve been aware of the pagoda dogwood for years, but had to have one after seeing natives along the Appalachian Trail.
Finally, a yellow flowered hellebore survived, though prior failures were explained by poor positioning. With many dozens of hellebores in the garden, additions will be limited to early bloomers and another few with yellow flowers.
Carex Bunny Blue (Carex laxiculmis ‘Hobb’) is similar to a wild collected carex in the gardener, but with bluer foliage (which is diminished in winter). Several carex, including ‘Feather Falls’ were added this year.
The Seven Son tree was added a year ago, but this year it flowered and displayed pink calyces until the first freeze. This replaces one lost in a summer storm several years ago, and I’m thrilled have it back.
Two flowering maples (Abutilon) bloom through the winter in the basement’s dim sunlight. Tiny trees grew to six feet in pots on the patios. Both will cut back in early spring to encourage denser branching.
Just what the garden needed, more Japanese maples (Acer palmatum ‘Mikawa yatsubusa’, above). With limited space, the handful added this year were dwarfs or columnar varieties.
The exception to the addition of only dwarf Japanese maples was planting a large ‘Oshio beni’ in a space once filled by a redbud that was removed as it tilted too far after years of ice and snow.
Several sweetshrubs (Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’ above) were added along the forest edge. I’m uncertain of the point when shade will diminish flowering, but all flower acceptably so far.
I hardly remember what filled this space alongside the koi pond patio, but I’m certain the colorful combination of purple smoke bush (Cotinus) and yellow leafed elderbery (Sambucus racemosa Lemony Lace) that replaced it will be an improvement. The two shrubs will require annual pruning.
As two variegated ‘Silver Cloud’ redbuds were lost in recent years (though one is growing back from the roots), the collection of redbuds has increased with addition of ‘Golden Falls’ (above), ‘Ruby Falls’, ‘Rising Sun’, and ‘Flamethrower'(below). I plan to add the variegated, weeping ‘Whitewater’ in early spring.
The newly planted ‘Flamethrower’ continued new growth through midsummer to contrast with older leaves.
Several ‘Millenium’ allium flowered for many weeks.
While a much larger ginkgo struggles for space near a more vigorous black gum, several dwarf ginkgo have been planted.
After seeing a redbud hazel (Disanthus cercidifolius) in a garden on Bainbridge Island in Washington state, I purchased the first one I found.
Several hydrangeas were added this year, all mountain hydrangeas (H. serrata) or hybrids that are much more tolerant of winter cold and spring frosts.

New areas in the garden

Lawn in the lower, rear garden that was once our family’s ball field was removed and mounded to improve drainage for new plantings. The first year appearance was improved by cannas that were dug and stored for winter.
A raised rock and gravel area was added to the new planting by late summer.
The gravel alongside the new planting by the small greenhouse will become less stark as Mazus reptans is encouraged. A dwarf ‘Shaina’ Japanese maple will soon fill the space with orchids and others to be transplanted as the maple grows wider.
A narrow planting area was extended along the forest’s edge.
The garden’s newest addition, another rock and gravel garden just below the greenhouse, was constructed in December. Several granite boulders tested my limits, confirming the obvious, I am no longer a young fellow. Several plants were transplanted, including the yellow flowered hellebore, but many more will be added in the spring.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Anne Kelly says:

    Absolutely beautiful Dave, thank you for sharing your garden!

    1. Dave says:

      With a full year of growth I hope that the areas planted last year will take a step forward. The new rock garden is now a pile of rocks and gravel, so I’m looking forward to plugging plants in. Gardens are never finished, and hopefully they’re better every year.

  2. Chuck says:

    Love the pictures of the planting areas…my chance to steal ideas
    You must be consistent with the deer spraying…they get my hosta every year

    1. Dave says:

      I should be consistent with my deer spraying, but I’m not. I once sprayed at the first of each month, but now I am reminded when I notice something’s been nibbled. In October I let the deer eat the remaining hosta foliage, and unfortunately I delayed too long following up when I noticed a few aucubas partially eaten. They’ll grow back in spring.

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