I decided that this group of garden pix that I had planned to post for Helen’s End Of Month View at The Patient Gardener did not quite fit with the wide angle images that Mark took. So I am presenting them separately, giving you a few close-ups of plantings.
Our Buddha, surrounded by containers of mostly perernnials and ferns, sits at the edge of the deck and is a constant presence. This year I bought a couple of fancy-leaved Begonias for the pots but otherwise just dug plants out of the garden and plopped them in pots. Behind Buddha — hidden by greenery — is our pond. The stream and upper pool that feed it are off to the right of this image but also are not visible in this shot.
The upper pool and stream are in the forground here. Stepping stones lead to the Sacred Grove on the right and the shrub border along the lot line marked by the fence in the center back. This shot includes a Bloodgood Japanese Maple (from the left), Weeping Purple Beech and Striped-bark Maple. (Click on any photo to enlarge it for more detail). A semi-circle of yew balls surrounds the Beech.
Arrowhead (Sagitaria latifolia) is a native water plant with dramatic foliage. It almost takes over this little pool by the end of August. It has prominent white flower stalks later in the summer.
In a boggy area along the stream is Hart's Tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium), Branford Beauty painted fern (Athyrium BB) and a clump of Royal fern (Osmunda regalis).
Toward the bottom of the stream: a weeping Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis 'Ashfield Weeper'), Russian Cypress (Microbiata decusata) and more Branford Beauty painted fern.
Ajuga (probably A. reptans 'Burgundy Glow') and moss at the foot of the stream.
So far this season, I've only seen white water lilies (Nymphaea varieties) on the pond. Not sure why the yellow ones are late.
Here I am inspecting things along the fence at the edge of our property. We decided not plant flowers here but to concentrate on shrubs for eventual lower maintenance. You can see a new Japanese quince (Chaenomeles 'O Yakashima') is still caged to protect it from the rabbits who are wicked this year.
The multi-stem tree in the backround is a sixty-year-old lilac. It still flowers at the top of the branches. We can see them from the hosue and smell them when we walk by. We love the look of those skinny trunks so we have no plans to cut it down or let new branches grow up.
Our Doublefile Viburnum (Viburnum plicatum tomentosum 'Mariesii') is the star of our front garden. At sixteen years old, she's beyond mature width which Michael Dirr lists as 9-12' wide. This photo from 2011 doesn't do her 16+ foot width justice. Height-wise she's in Dirr's ballpark of 8-10' high. Normally at this season she just glows with double rows of white lacecap flowers.
Though this shrub is on the north side of the house surrounded by mature deciduous trees and backed by an old yew hedge, our winter seems to have done her in. Mariesii is listed as a Zone 5 shrub and I don't really remember any dieback in prior years. Mostly we prune any vertical growth since it is a plant that emphasizes the horizontal.
This spring we've only seen leaves on the lowest branches, along with vertical suckers coming from the base. I was pretty distraught about this situation initially. At first we thought we'd just stand back and wait to see what happens. Since it was pretty obvious what was happening — the top of the shrub was completely dead — Mark decided to prune it back to live wood. At this point we're talking about putting off any decision about taking it out completely until next spring.
At one time we had planned to put stone steps up into this garden from the driveway, but then filled the space with trees and shrubs. We abandoned that plan because we couldn't come to a mutual decision about what to cut down for the necessary pathway. At this point, I think we're becoming resigned to the possibility of losing this Viburnum and gaining a new entrance point to the garden.
Today is my sister's 36th wedding anniversary. I'll never forget the noontime storm we experienced that day on the way to the service. It got so dark that the streetlights came on. For years afterward I always anticipated a major storm on June 17th. Eventually I forgot about it when the date went by without incident. It all came back to me last night when we were awakened by the tornado sirens going off at 12:01 a.m.
I drive almost daily through the Midvale Heights neighborhood very close to ours, where a tornado went through in 2004. And my brother-in-law and his family lived on Alice Circle, the street that was the epicenter of the 2005 F-3 Stoughton tornado. Luckily they were on vacation out of harm's way.
That's why I got dressed and grabbed the essentials: my purse/phone/flashlight/iPad/rainjacket and went in the cellar last night. I briefly watched the TV news with Mark but could hear the wind rising and the bells by the back door ringing madly. I stayed down there until Mark announced it looked like we were OK and could go back to bed. I have to admit I was a bit frustrated that he exhibited typical guy behavior and stayed upstairs by the TV in a room with huge windows. Especially since we have a TV in the basement to say nothing of laptops and iPads.
This morning the garden is sparkling and water lilies are blooming even though its pretty gray outside and rain is forcast for most of this week. The rain gauge measured 1.49" and there were only a couple of twiglets down here and there in the garden. (The center tube holds one inch and the bigger tube holds the overflow).
Mark just came home from the coffee shop and sheepishly announced that whatever blew through last night did serious damage a mere three streets away from us! According to a report in the Wisconsin State Journal this morning, Mark and I were very lucky. Lots of trees down and at least 23 homes seriously damaged. This side of town is known for its big old trees which is one of the joys of living here.
The story noted that "John Marshall, a public works supervisor who’s worked for the Madison Streets Division since 1977, was on scene and said the damage was the worst he had seen since an F-1 tornado ripped through several West Side neighborhoods, including Midvale Heights in 2004." Way too close for comfort for me. And Mark admitted next time he's turning on the TV news from the basement.
Here's a link to storm damage news photos.
I always pot up a container of annual herbs that I can put in a sunny spot. Often that spot has been on this old stump from a huge crabapple tree. Time — and digging critters — are making inroads into the stump, so this year I decided to put a couple of parsley plants directly into the crevices along with a little dirt. They've lasted a week and seem to be settling in. The usual pot of herbs (4 kinds of basil) is on the stump of the pine tree that came down in the winter of 2012/13.
The oak tree:
in cherry blossoms.
— Matsuo Basho translated by Robert Haas
At the end of our driveway is a Bur oak tree that was here long before our neighborhood existed. In fact, local tree historian Bruce Allison estimated that it was growing there before Wisconsin was a state. Every year it showers our driveway with acorns that make a loud crunching sound when we drive over them.
Now and then I note an oak seedling in the garden but they usually don't last. This spring we have three small but sturdy looking oak trees that made it through their first winter. I am like a proud parent: enjoying their presence and keeping a watchful eye on them to assure their survival.
We had a second round of tree pruning done on Saturday by our friend and former neighbor who is an arborist for the city. Tony has worked on the majority of trees in the garden. This time he was pruning another of our honey locusts. I love this shot of him with his saw and pole pruner at the ready!
Tony was working in one of a pair of "smaller" locusts compared to the one that we had Goodland recently prune. Mark took this shot from the highest point in the garden with a bit roof of our house visible at the bottom right.
As a gardener himself Tony is very respectful of our plants. I always know he and Mark will make sure everything is protected as much as possible. Mark has a roll of what he calls "surveryor's tape" that is thin enough to weave through wire cages as well as the trees and shrubs themselves. I love the contrast between the color of the tape and the seriousness of the usage!
Pink tape is marking a pair of boxwoods that we put in pots on the deck each summer as well as a clump of Hellebores, a new tree from Khelm, two dwarf Ginkgo shrubs and assorted perennials in my "holding bed." That's another name for the berm which will finally be planted this year now that exterior construction on the Tea House is finished.
At the last minute Mark had the idea to use saw horses and a piece of plywood to put over our low, spreading Pagoda dogwood. It was a perfect solution. Not a thing was evern slightly injured even though Tony did major pruning — enough that the two of us spent most of the afternoon picking it up. And enough for two pickup truckloads of debris which Mark took to the yard waste dropoff that afternoon.
Though we still have some pruning that needs to be done — other than annual maintenance — Mark should be able to handle those jobs. So we feel like the garden season is off to a very good start.
I am always surprised when visitors to our garden ask the identity of the big tree that hovers over our deck (and house). It's a mature Honey Locust that was planted when our house was built in 1954. I'm not sure of the reason for their surprise and delight, but it does seem to suggest that most folks don't let their locusts get this big. Before we began our garden we had this tree pruned and we talked to the arborist about where we could safely put our pond as well as how to protect this important tree during garden construction. That was in 1996-7, and neither Mark nor I are sure if we've had the Locust pruned since then.
These trees tend to shade out their lower branches which then die and can come down in a storm. Or on a windy summer afternoon when you're sitting under the tree enjoying a gin and tonic. Not necessarily a bad way to go, but rather a problem if you're partying with friends and neighbors. So last summer Mark and I interviewed arborists about pruning the Locust. We were more concerned about how much to take off and where, than how much it might cost us. Safety and aesthetics were our concerns and since we hadn't had the tree pruned in ten or fifteen years, we were prepared to pay what it cost. After watching Peter Kaseman-Wold take down a tree in a neighbor's yard, we hired his 12-year-old company, Goodland Tree Works, to prune our Locust.
Peter and his team arrived on Monday morning, March 31. We had thought it might be possible to do the work during the winter when the garden was dormant and the pond was frozen. But it was too cold and snowy to work in the garden until the last few days. The shrubs, paths and rocks were finally visible and the snow had melted off the roof of the house making the garden safe for the Goodland crew to work in.
While Peter and my husband, Mark, talked about what to cut out of the tree, the guys brought their tools and safety equipment into the back garden. Despite the saws this was a surprising quiet job once they got going.
They brought back big sheets of plastic which they put down in the areas where they dropped and piled branches. They also used orange cones to note emerging flowers and small shrubs that needed protection. They used the grey garbage can to haul out small branches but first they put it upside down over a tiny tree that needed protection.
Peter and another member of his team went up into the tree climbing up ropes. Pretty fascinating to watch these guys in action!
When you see how small two guys in the tree appear, it gives you a sense of how big the Locust really is. The building in the foreground is our Tea House, then our house at the bottom of the garden and our neighbor's house on the other side of the fence.
I love watching tree trimmers work but I must admit that I find it equal parts fascinating and horrifying!
I know they are wearing safety harnesses and they definitely knew what they were doing, but it is scary to a person who has a fear of heights and rarely climbed trees as a kid (me!).
It was a perfect day for the job with the day starting out cool and cloudy. By the time they left just before noon, the sun was out and it felt like Spring had finally arrived.
Trimmings are starting to pile up underneath the tree. You can also see where critters ate all the branches on the dwarf burning bush (foreground of the photo). My two dwarf Ginkgoes nearby were protected by cages.
Our Honey Locust has a huge canopy with branches that extend way out. And a lot of the trim work needed to be done out near the edges of those branches — and up near the top of the tree.
The size of the piles of prunings clearly showed us how much was coming off the tree. Now and then I would hear footsteps on the roof but there were never any big bangs of branches falling. Everything seemed to be lowered under control with skill and surprising speed.
The noisiest part of the morning was chipping the branches which one of the guys started doing as they were nearing the end of the trimming. The guys also chomped up the branches we'd picked up in the yard that had come down during winter storms, thus saving us a trip to Badger Rd. recycling.
Since it was obvious that Mark and I are gardeners, Peter asked us if we would like to do the final cleanup rather than have him do it. That would save us some money but more importantly we knew that we'd be going over the area again no matter how well they cleaned it. That's what gardeneres do at this season: we pick up every little twig we can find!
The photo at the top of this post is a "before" shot of the Honey Locust before pruning. The picture below is an "after" shot. In person, it's easy to see how much more open the tree is. But I think the photos are more deceptive, making the changes hard to see.
It reminds me of my philosoply of haircuts: I want my hair to always look good and always look the same. You shouldn't be able to tell when I've had it cut. I think Goodland's tree trimming is the same: our tree looks terrific, just the way it should.
We're both more than happy with the job that Peter Kaseman-Wold and Goodland Tree Works did for us. We'll certainly use them again. And we won't wait fifteen years between trimmings next time.
As a gardner, I want to emphasize how much they listened to Mark and my wishes about protecting our plants. These guys were working around an area that had lots of small trees and shrubs and clumps of snowdrops. I don't think they so much as disturbed a snowdrop bud; a very impressive job. Also we hired Peter based on talking to him, watching his crew work and recommendations by friends. We are not getting any remuneration for this endorsement. Good work needs to be appreciated and complimented and what better place than a garden blog?
One of my favorite bloggers, Deborah Silver at Dirt Simple took a look back at her garden over the course of the last year, as did Margaret Roach at A Way to Garden. It made me curious to look back at my own garden for 2013.
One of our massive 58-year-old Austrian pines came down in a storm at the end of December. It took out a couple of smaller trees as it fell but amazingly did not damage the fence. Mark and an arborist friend carefully cut it down in January.
I barely blogged or looked out the window I was so depressed over the loss of my big pine tree since it meant my shade garden was now pretty much in full sun. I cocooned indoors with good food, books and lots of candles.
It seemed like it took forever, but it turned out the snowdrops appeared right on schedule when I compared their arrival date with prior years. However neither winter nor the snow were over.
Fred and Ethel flew in with barely enough open water on our pond for a smooth landing. Looked painful to me but didn't seem to bother them. Look how much snow is still on the ground on April 7th!
The garden finally burst into full bloom with a spectacular month of flowers. Everything from our ancient apple trees to these primroses and Trilliums was lush, given the drought of the prior year.
Record rains kept the garden green and going strong. It also sent water into our basement and Mark spent much of the summer re-landscaping one side of the house to try to send the snow-melt and rainwater away from the house.
After 13 years our Stewartia finally flowered on its lower branches. For years we mostly enjoyed the flowers as they fell to the ground from the top branches. A real thrill!
Despite the wet spring, by late summer it was dry enough that I had to drag out the hoses to water my new shrub and tree purchases as well as all the plants that got new homes after the pine tree came out.
Plenty of flowers were happy with the sun and dryness like this geranium. It's growing in a pot on the deck with a fern and a clump of Tiarella or Heucherella, both of which I just dug out of the garden. I brought the pot into the house at the end of October; the fern has mostly faded but the other two plants are looking great, as is the pot of rosemary just visible on the far right.
Mark spent late summer and fall working on the Tea House. He finished all the doors, windows and a couple of protective shutters. Next summer he plans to do the finish carpentry on the interior. We sat inside with the doors open having a cup of afternoon coffee quite a few days during the fall.
We had a fence built on the east side of the garden, mulched many bags of leaves and also gathered 4 or 5 bags of white pine needles from our neighbors' trees. They will be used to refresh all my pine needle paths in the spring. From my first, rather sad little garden up to the present day, I have no qualms about cutting flowers to enjoy indoors. Making my own bouquets is the main reason I grow flowers. The last thing I did in November was to cut a couple of bouquets of leaves and seed-heads for the Thanksgiving table and for arrangements to put in the bathrooms. One small vaseful of dried seedheads remains, refreshed with evergreen prunings.
Twenty-eight new or favorite trees and shrubs — mostly dwarf varieties — were caged for the winter. We seem to have Peter Rabbit and his family living under our deck. But tracks outside the windows show that someone who travels on four feet has been trying to find the bunnies. Not sure if it's a fox or coyote. So far we can't tell if he's had any success. I am one who likes her plants more than Peter R.
How did your gardening year go?
Mark grabbed his camera Tuesday afternoon (10/22) to snap a few shots of fall color in our garden. When he came back in the house, he commented that it was probably a bit trite to be taking shots of the trees doing their annual fall color production. But, he noted, it was amazing how different the process was from year to year.
This year, with a late first frost, many trees in the garden have barely colored up. This Stewartia japonica is a good example since it typically turns a blinding red by this time in October.
The following four images are all of Korean maples (Acer pseudosieboldiana) in the back garden and you can see no two are looking the same.
The two pictures below are different sides of the same tree.
This maple (Acer triflorum) is glowing the way it seems to do every year, suggesting it's a reliable performer whatever the weather.
Our Ginkgo lost most of its leaves in this week's frost before they'd even begun to turn the beautiful yellow they are known for. The small yellow leaves are from assorted Locust trees.
Our burning bush (Euonymous alatus) is turning red one leaf at a time!
The yellow on this Witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) seems to be flowing from the point of this strange little growth on the leaf.
Our 'Forest Pansy' Redbud (Cercis canadensis) is showing softer colors than other years.
The reverse side of the redbud leaves.
The sugar and silver maples put on a pretty typical fall show and have now lost most of their leaves.