Most of my childhood and youth in Winnipeg, Manitoba, there was a weed tree everywhere, called Manitoba Maple. I never knew what it was, and over the years I’ve kind of thought about it. But never enough to find out more about it. It was just a big, ungainly deciduous tree that seemed to thrive in the awful cold and extreme heat that was Manitoba in the winter and the summer.
Now I’m in Kansas, and I’ve spent a huge amount of thought trying to find something – a shade tree — that would grow fast, take extreme cold, extreme heat, occasional drenching downpours with brief standing water.
Well, I’m no Agatha Christie, so you’ve probably guessed what I ended up with.
It turns out that Manitoba Maple is actually Acer Negundo, known here as Box Elder. And now there are ten of them in my new Woodland Walk.
Last week we had 48 – yes, that is not a typo – 48 trees put into the woodland and at the entrance. They’ve been struggling in the sudden heat and dryness, with a lot of babying from the sprinklers and hoses.
But last night it rained, quite a lot, about 1/3 inch…and this morning this is what I woke up to.
The Woodland Walk looks like a dream of a woodland walk.
The entry grove brings me to tears.
The new climbing Rose, Above & Beyond, just gave me its first flower,and it looks EXACTLY like its picture.
I was not expecting any flowers this year. I planted it bare root last fall, not recommended, but that is when it arrived so that is when I did it. And two days ago I noticed an orange bud. And today a gorgeous, apricot flower – surrounded by more buds. I can hardly wait.
The rose people seeing this will notice it has some Rose slug damage, but I got the appropriate treatment and tomorrow they will be toast!
One of the first (of many) mistakes I made in garden design – in my own garden, fortunately – was thinking about plant combinations in isolation. Not thinking about where the viewer was going to be until it was too late. Then I looked up to the distance, and….”whoops”. I had made lovely plant combinations – but the neighbor’s chain link fence was not an appealing backdrop.
Gardens don’t exist in isolation. Viewers don’t just look at what you want them to see…they see everything!
And except for lucky people like me, people who make gardens, most people don’t spend most of their time outdoors.
So part of designing a garden is seeing it in your mind’s eye — knowing what it will look like from inside. Because that is where most people are, most of the time.
Whether it’s looking through a door or window, the garden has to be exciting from everywhere.
So…some examples. This is a Hot Wings Maple, Acer tatarian ‘Hot Wings’ seen from my bedroom window, through the blinds. The brilliant red samaras look like flowers on this wonderful small tree. And in the background, past it, you see a part of my winter garden. Of course this tree looks beautiful when seen from outdoors. But I think this framing adds to its beauty. And the almost invisible screen makes it look almost like a watercolor doesn’t it?
Here is a terraced garden I created, seen from the living room.
And here is part of a roof I did in NY.
This part of the roof doesn’t really have enough space to sit – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a garden and give pleasure.
It’s important to remember that a garden is part of the house, part of day-to-day life, not an isolated creation.
All gardeners and gardens live in the future and perhaps this one more than most because it is so large and so new. But the sight of these Alliums in the perennial border is starting to give some definition to the border.
Last fall I planted 150 Allium aflatunense and I think just about all of them came up. They are scattered among the hundreds of perennials I planted – and more to come – but it will be a few years before they give the effect they should: a perennial border with Alliums rather than an Allium border.
The perennials and grasses that will be 3’ – 5’ tall are 3” tall. So at the moment the Alliums aren’t exactly scattered “among” anything.
They need the perennials to give structure to the design. And they need the perennials to cover their dying leaves of course.
It is so nice to look out and see them.
Today, while planting some ferns (a gift from a fellow gardener) an earthworm slithered away! Which means my soil is becoming SOIL!!! Not just clay, suitable only for pottery, but actual soil.
What a beautiful sight it was. And when I mentioned it to John, he said “Oh yes, I’ve seen several of them”.
When this Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia “ Jelena”) bloomed late last fall during an early frost, I figured it was done blooming. Too bad; I so look forward to its bloom in mid-winter.
Well, this is what happened in January. It bloomed again. As did the nearby “Arnold’s Promise”.
Now they are both leafing out and growing (at their usual snail’s pace) and seeming quite happy.
As am I.
I put in 10” dormant pussywillows, Salix gracilistyla ‘Mt Aso’ — 20 of them — in the spring, hoping they would take…then hoping they would grow to their 5’ tall height… then hoping they would form the beautiful rose-red pussies.
Well I got two out of three of my wishes.
They almost all took, grew new branches, new leaves – and now – pussies for winter. They are only about 18” tall so far, but I assume they have nice roots and next year should start making some height.
So I will have my “river” of pussywillows for summer leaves and winter color, and then I will interplant with Siberian Irises for spring bloom. Yum.
A couple of weeks ago I came across a description of a new climbing rose in American Nurseryman. Here is the description that intrigued me.
I got some more information from David Zlesak, the breeder, and this week – one arrived! Thank you so much David.
It is a big plant – expected to be about 14’ x 14 ‘, so I’m having it go on the only wall big enough to hold it, fortunately facing South-East.
The dark apricot rose should look wonderful against the butter-colored concrete.
This season’s rains have drowned some plants, most small and easily replaceable, but some – see the sad, brown Pine in the background – not so easy.
The solution seems to be to dig some dry wells (8 of them!), and have the water collect in them to release slowly rather than flooding.
We actually did have some dry wells done when we were first grading the site, but in this year’s amazing rains they were inadequate. Also, while they worked well to remove excess water from large areas, what we have now is some more localized flooding.
And (sigh)we also discovered that some of the irrigation heads were wrongly identified. So we needed to re-do the irrigation plan, accurately locate every head and correctly name its zone. That way, in the future, when I need to irrigate a particular area, with new plantings, say, or water-loving plants, I won’t be watering the wrong things.
So…some rented survey equipment, a brief class in using it, and a couple of days of “Run Zone One” “Mark each head on the plan.” “Run Zone Two.” “Mark each head on the plan.” Etc.
The Master Surveyor had help from his long-nosed furry Trainee Surveyor, and now every head, every valve – and incidentally, every tree and shrub – is now in the right place on the plans.