There are some heartwarming and oh-so-welcome sights in the newly planted garden. Some of the new plants are showing soft, plump buds – and in one case, the first FLOWERS! (Though you have to look closely to see those).
The Wisteria are covered with buds. So next year the pergolas won’t be quite so naked.
And most of the Dogwoods have buds.
The luscious little upward facing ovals in a few months will be dancing white and sparkling against the blue sky.
And also the Witch Hazel. Jelena, with its copper colored flowers is actually flowering a little as well as being covered with clusters of fuzzy, pale, pale gray-yellow buds.
I have the Perennial Border all planned, each individual plant. (See my post from January 23, 2014, https://timshalagardens.com/2014/01/23/the-perennial-border-plants-at-last-and-their-seasonal-interest/)
But I’m having trouble locating some of the plants I want to use. And some will be too expensive to buy in the quantities I need (at least in a size that will give the effect I want this year.) However I now realize that there is another way to get masses of planned color, in large sweeps without waiting and without huge expense: annuals.
Annuals in a Perennial Border? Yes indeed. I just have to stop thinking of it as a Perennial Border and instead realize that what I want there is a Flowering Border. There. I did it. Just changed the name.
So this week I am sowing seeds! There are some wonderfully tall, hardy flowering annuals which can be sown in December/January through March/April, and bloom this summer. Poppies, for example. And Cleome (I think – I have heard conflicting recommendations. If anyone has information I would be grateful). And Larkspur, Cosmos, Zinnias, Sunflowers.
This also gives me an opportunity to try some plants I’m not familiar with. For example, I’ve ordered seeds for Melinis nerviglumis, Ruby Grass, which should grow to about 2’ tall, with a pink spike flower in July/August, which waves in the breeze. (And we have lots and lots of ‘breeze’)
So this year, one way or another, I’m going to have flowers. Then, in the spring I will start putting in a lot of the perennials that will take over the flowering job eventually.
The shrubs and vines I planted this fall were doing beautifully. I was going for daily strolls, enjoying big fat buds on the Wisteria….the beginnings of some little flower spikes on the Fothergillas …pale yellow flower buds on the Witch Hazels near the front entrance. Oak Leaf Hydrangeas – which I had hesitated to plant in the fall – were looking so healthy that my decision was vindicated.
Then I noticed some bark missing here and there. “Hmmm” I thought, “A few rabbits got in under the fence.” I know that in some places – under the gates for example – the metal rodent barrier mesh was missing. It looks like there are well-travelled paths going in and out. Now I see little piles of rabbit ‘pellets’ along the path; And sometimes when I take the dog out for his early morning or late night walks I notice occasional rabbits leaping away in the dark.
I now think that by putting up the deer fence, and having a not-quite-impregnable rodent barrier, I have made a sanctuary for rabbits. Their predators– fox, coyote, raccoons, opossum, cats and dogs – they’ve all been kept out. The rabbits are safe! Yes, I do see hawks circling, and I hear owls, but apparently they can’t keep up. The rabbits just keep breeding, eating and pooping.
So I’m going to have the gaps in the rodent barrier filled in as much as possible. And I’ve sent away for rabbit repellant. I hope it isn’t too late.
I’ve been trying, really I have, to stay with the plans I laid out a year or so ago. Perennials here. Red border there. Groundcovers over there. These shrubs in this place and those trees in that.
But I’m discovering, now that we’re here all the time, that some of the ideas don’t work as well as I planned. The land itself isn’t cooperating.
For example, there are some low-lying areas that have standing water for a day or so after a heavy rain and since they are in an irrigated zone, they don’t ever get very dry. The lawns or groundcovers I planned just won’t grow there. But you know what will?
And Golden Carex.
So I’ve developed a plan for a ‘river’ of gold Carex ‘Bowles Variety‘ instead of lawn, with swathes of Siberian Irises ‘Caesar’s Brother‘ down the length of it for their deep purple bloom in June. And their grass-like leaves the rest of the summer will contrast with and complement the golden leaves of the Carex. This ‘river’ will run across the perennial border, from the Orchard all the way into the Woodland – several hundred winding feet. It will not only be suitable planting for a wet area, but by tying two distant areas together it will actually be an improvement to the design. I had initially planned a stone path for that purpose — but I think this planting will do a better job. Later, if I like, I can still put in the path, but the ‘river’ will give the path a reason for being.
In the Winter Garden, a brisk, cold, clear day enjoyed by my two favorite people.