is in the garden. The witch hazel is covered with yellow flowers which are visible from inside the house now that it's lost its leaves.Though I would not call myself a native plant aficionado, I do grow our North American native witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana.
The native species is totally hardy here (USDA Zones 3-8) and has never had a pest or failed to blossom in all the years since I planted it in 1998.
It is particularly spectacular this autumn, first covered with yellow leaves and now covered in clumps of flowers like yellow streamers.
I have two witch hazels, each growing at the foot of the trunk of a 60-year-old silver maple tree in dry, moderately shady conditions.
In these pictures you can see their companions — Acer pseudosieboldiana and A. triflorum — still have all their leaves, though they've faded from their earlier screaming red.
These trees hold their leaves throughout the winter, making a bold contrast in the garden once other deciduous trees and shrubs are bare.
It's windy and rainy out at the moments so the last of the bright leaves will just be a memory by next week.
This is the view out the kitchen window above the sink. I can hardly do the dishes because I keep getting distracted by that scene — especially the Korean maple!
The spectacular color keeps drawing me outside to visit the half dozen maples in the front garden.
To get a real sense of the color variation you have to cross the street so you can see the whole panorama at once. Pagoda dogwood (below from left), Witch Hazel, Korean Maple and a sweetly pale pink Burning Bush.
We have at least eight Korean or purplebloom maples (Acer pseudosieboldianum) planted in our garden. Most are very small trees bought at the annual sale of the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society. We like them because they have the leaves of a Japanese maple but are much more hardy in our climate. Though we are supposedly Zone 5, after last winter I am not taking any more chances with tree and shrub purchases and am going back to our earlier zonal designation of 4 as my guide.
The trunk of the one above, planted in 2000, split in a winter snow storm a few years ago. Mark bolted it back together and it's been doing fine ever since. This one is on its way to turning as bright a red as this branch (below) of another Korean maple in the back garden by the Tea House.
Here's the Korean maple by the Tea House and a Japanese Bloodgood maple in the rear.
Moving a bit to the left from the view above you can see the yellow leaves of a striped maple (Acer pennsylvanicum) in the background on the right and yellow Ginkgo biloba leaves just coming into view on the left.
Our paperbark maple (Acer griseum x nikoense) is still mostly green. Next to it is a Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) and an Acer palmatum dissectum 'Viridis'.
Scanning the edge of the deck in these next images, the Ginkgo still has most of its leaves and the Bloodgood maple is visible across the pond in the left background.
Willows are turning yellow just past the trunk of our Locust tree.
Only the top of this Stewartia pseudocamellia is visible from the deck as it is hidden behind the willows and some pines.
Though the Bloodgood and Paperbark maples always turn red, I don't think anything has more reliable or more intense fall color than the Korean maples. Add in the hardiness factor and they are my top choice for a small garden tree here in the upper Midwest.
When my father died in 1998, my office mates gave me a gift certificate to buy something for the garden in memory of my Dad. Mark and I decided on a Ginkgo biloba which we planted right off the deck. It is visible from the main living spaces in the house so I see it all the time and think of my dad, who was the gardener in our family.
It is one of the main stars of the garden, never more than at this season when its leaves turn a clear, soft yellow. Typically the leaves fall all at once when frost hits the tree, something that has not happened yet. When the leaves first drop, they are as smooth and pliable as a piece of silk. I often pick one up to enjoy the sensation of rubbing it between my fingers as I wander the garden remebering my Dad.
Just spent two hours getting a jump on next spring's garden. I raked up 6 big bags full of white pine needles from my next door neighbor's front lawn. The pink ties are to remind me six months from now which bags have needles and which have leaf mulch.
Tomorrow I'll rake the space between our two driveways which should yield at least one more bag. Then I will gather up pine needles from the neighbors who live behind us. I use the pine needles on a number of garden paths. They are soft and quiet to walk on and give shady spots a true woodland garden feel. And I feel so virtuous when I can gather them for free!
Whenever we visit a garden, public or private, we always look for ideas for our own garden. On this visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden we paid particular attention to foliage plants. We're looking to add more shrubs to the garden, so seeing mature specimens is the ideal way to gauge what might suit our situation.
The first plant that caught our eye was this Rhododendron yedoense var. poukhanense 'compacta'. I have been growing the regular size version of this Korean Rhododendron for the past ten years with few problems. Since it's hardy to Zone 4, my larger plant came through our miserable winter with no damage other than lighter bloom count than prior years. But I love the idea of this Rhodie as a groundcover shrub, suitable for shade to part shade! Until I saw this variety I had no idea there was a version with such a low, tight profile. The biggest problem will likely prove to be finding a source for it.
The next surprise we discovered was this beautiful Korean Arborvitae: Thuja koraiensis 'Glauca prostrata.' We first thought it was a Russian Arborvitae until we saw the tag. Russian arborvitae (Microbiota decussata) is a Zone 3 shrub capable of growing in full sun to part shade, making it a very versatile plant for Northern gardeners. We have 3 of them in different locations in our garden.
This Korean version is hardy to Zone 5, full sun to part shade. Though I am trying to steer clear of Zone 5 plants, this grows low enough that snow cover should protect it.
We snapped this photo of a Weeping Beech since we are also growing one: Fagus sylvatica 'Purple Fountain.' This is to remind us of what it will do if left to its own devices. Ours will need some pruning down the road to keep it within the space allotted for it.
We are also growing two Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) trees and two shrubby versions. We bought one of the trees under the impression it was a weeping variety but it is growing outward and eating up space. It had not occurred to either of us that we might sharply prune it to the size and shape we want. Clearly this trio of Metasequoia glyptostroboides trees have been seriously sheared. Up close we could see branch tips that had been cut off and the new growth seemed to be growing more upward than outward, a solution that would be perfect for our tree.
Two other shrubs that caught our eye were Magnolia stellata 'Waterlily,' a Star Magnolia pruned into a big globe. And a wonderful Northern Bayberry that came out of the Chicagoland Grows program: Myrica pensylvanica 'Morton Male.' Both of these are Zone 4 plants and given all the sun we now have in the garden from loss of big trees, they might actually prosper in our garden now.
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.