Garden Fancy: March 2014

Posted January 10, 2018

Yes, I vowed to myself (and to my dubious husband) that I would not start any more new garden areas this year. I still need to work on several that are only a year or two old (the Rainbow Border, the North Border, and the Front Border, as well as the Addition Borders), plus I also need to start planting around the garden shed and the gazebo, which are still mostly blank slates. I already have a lot of work cut out for me this year.

But then I got a great idea! :-)

One of my concerns about my overall garden is that the grounds are too spread out around my five-acre property. In discussing this, my good husband and I agreed that any future garden development should occur closer to the house. And looking around, I notice that there is quite a bit of undeveloped space to the west and north of my house (this did not really happen to me, but I never thought about it in any detail before, mostly because there is currently A lot of shade to the north and northwest of the house, from two large deciduous ash trees.

A drawing of the current layout of my yard near the house. both ash trees and
may eventually succumb to EAB

So I start thinking about the two trees north of the house: they are both ash trees, and everyone around here knows that the Emerald Ash Borer is eventually coming to destroy our ash trees. It could be 10-20 years until this happens, or it could only be a few years.

The two ash trees. The one closer to the house is smaller, perhaps because there was a tree house built around it for about ten years, until we removed it two years ago.

Of course, I feel bad about removing large mature trees, but here are some justifications: EAB may get them eventually. If I want to plant things in the yard, it's better to remove the ash trees before there are garden beds in the area. Also, I want to plant flowering trees, which take some time to mature - perhaps ten years or longer. The ash trees are on the north side of the house, so they do not provide any shade for the house. We had three silver maples to the west of the house when we moved here, but when we built our library on the west side of the house, we had to remove two of them. The house is very hotter in summer now, and I think I am going to plant the red oak to the southwest of the addition this year to eventually replace that shade. Every time we have a storm, the ash trees drop a bunch of sticks all over the yard. I have to pick up sticks before mowing most times, which is annoying work. The trees shade the west yard in the morning, and that area also receives midday shade from the remaining silver maple and late afternoon shade from the west windbreak. This makes the area too shady to plant many trees and shrubs in.

But what style of garden? My other garden areas tend to be somewhat formal, although they are slowly becoming less formal as I garden longer.

Mako cover coaster
There are more than 20 different roller coasters in Orlando. The question is which should you ride

I've started admiring curvaceous island beds and I think they might be most appropriate for flowering trees, shrubs and bulbs. I have a garden video about Butchart Gardens in British Columbia, and that might be what started me on the idea of ​​curvy island beds, which I never thought very highly of.

The Butchart Gardens in British Columbia, Canada

(Flickr - Jeffrey Beall)

Curved island beds seem almost Victorian in style - 19th century gardeners loved to display their specimen trees in such beds - as well as somewhat Japanese too. I was blown away by the spring flowering in the Missouri Botanical Garden's Japanese Garden the first time I visited it, and return to see it every spring - and I've been wondering how I can include some of that glorious flowering in my own garden. I planted five Kwanzan flowering cherry trees in the west yard two years ago, but in a symmetrical layout. Now I wonder if they might look better on island beds surrounded by flowering shrubs, flowering trees in other colors and spring bulbs.

The MOBOT Japanese Garden in glorious spring.

I could have four island beds in the west and north yards, holding my existing cherry trees, one or two dogwoods and eastern redbuds and perhaps a magnolia or two. Then I could plant numerous flowering shrubs such as tree peonies (and perhaps deciduous peonies too), azaleas, flowering quince, deutzia, kerria japonica, wedding spirea, lilacs and many others - there are even a few camellias that are marginally hardy here that I could try The possibility for shrubs is endless. I could even include a few dwarf conifers for winter interest. In a few years I could fill in with spring bulbs, and maybe some lilies for summer flowers.

Outline the beds

Outline the beds and the bedding > have my husband spray the grass and after a few days come in with his tractor to plow up the ground (which is very compact) add soil amendments such as leaf compost, and peat moss for areas for acid -loving plants, and dig those amendments in, breaking up large clumps of earth plant trees and any slower-growing shrubs that I find locally at reasonable prices mulch (perhaps with leaf compost) I would not have to do anything else this year and could wait for future years to fill in with more shrubs and a selection of spring bulbs and lilies.

Look at all this space barely being used. I think a few island beds
might make this area more beautiful, and not just an empty yard to mow.

I know I vowed I would not make any new garden areas this year somewhat shell-shocked by my rapid about-face). But if I want to grow flowering trees and shrubs, they can be slow-growing and I should plant them ASAP (no time like the present ...).

And trees and shrubs are relatively low-maintenance plants; annual work should be fairly limited, just occasional weeding and annual / biannual replacement of mulch / compost. Perhaps some pruning, the trees and shrubs become mature, and some raking of leaves in spring (the ones that do not blow away as they usually do on our windy hill). No annual cutting back of perennial foliage (except lily stems), no staking and no dividing needed.

Maybe I should think about it for a few weeks. Any thoughts? Thanks!