The orchard is blooming. Dogwoods are blooming. Hostas are coming up.

The orchard is what I see from the kitchen windowOrchard April 2015

and what a lovely sight it is now.  Every one of the flowering Crabapples I put in is blooming.  I did three different varieties, thinking that they would grow at different rates (which they have) and that I might lose some (and I haven’t).  They’re still small of course, but it is looking like a defined space.  It looks as if most of the grass growing in that area is – as I hoped – the No-Mow, which will remain short and a little rough.  So later this spring I’m going to put in a scattering of low-growing summer-flowering plants – possibly some red Daylilies, to further define the space.  And this fall I think it will be time for bulbs.

Dogwoods April 2015

The Dogwoods – all but one – came through the winter beautifully.  I was a little nervous, because I had been advised to wait until spring.  But I didn’t; and it worked out.  What I did do was water.  Every time there was a winter thaw I dragged out 350′ of hose and watered every tree and shrub deeply.  I think that did help.

And the Hostas, six big, beautiful Sum & Substance, are all up.  I planted them bare root, which I have never done before.  They are much less expensive that way – and it worked.  I highly recommend this as a way to save some money.  And the way they are coming up looks as if they are the same size they would be if I had planted gallon-size containers.

An Immigrant’s Garden

 

My mother was born in Russia.  My father was born in Poland.  They were brought to Canada by their parents, met and married and had me there.  I moved to the U.S. over 40 years ago.   We are immigrants all.World Map

Does all this moving about have an influence on my views about native plants vs. immigrant plants (called ‘aliens’ in horticultural circles)?  Perhaps it does.

In any case I have been thinking a lot lately about the subject as I go on with the choice of plants for the gardens at Timshala.  I hear more and more about the importance of planting natives — usually defined as plants which were already here when Europeans arrived.

And yet.  Some of the most surprising plants, the ones we see everywhere, are actually not natives.  The Daylilies coloring the sides of the road in late summer, Apple trees (yes, despite Johnny Appleseed), weeping Willows, Peonies, Irises, Hostas, Peaches, Dandelions (!), Lilacs, Irises, Japanese maples (no surprise there),  Soybeans, Wheat.   Immigrants all.

What they all do have in common – besides having been born elsewhere – is that they have traveled to find their preferred habitat.

So habitat is what determines all my plant choices.   The right temperatures, both winter and summer, soil quality, wind – these are all part of the planning. Wherever they might have come from, all the plants I am using will (should) be happy where I place them.  Some wet areas will have plants that like wet soil – Bald Cypress, Camassia, for example.  Actually those are both natives, but more important to me, they will grow well where I put them.   

So a lot of the plants I use will be natives.  A lot of them won’t.  But they should all thrive because they’re in the right place.

And so my garden at Timshala will have a lot of immigrants.  Including me.