Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The List Revisited

A couple of months ago I published my spring garden plant shuffling to-do "list".  To recap let's just say that every year I move a *few* plants.  The list is an attempt to prioritize the annual migration and get ahead of the curve.  Below is the list as it looked when I first created it in January, a page as fresh and clean as the ideas it contained.




Below is the list as it stands today, scribbled on and slightly tattered by progress.  I added a few more plants and a category for new plant acquisitions to reflect an order I placed with Plant Delights last week.  Stars prioritize shrubs and trees which I want to concentrate on first while they're still dormant.    

Although I had hoped to be further along by now, mother nature has had other plans.  Late spring snow has lingered longer than usual due to weeks of below average temperatures.  Even when the temperatures do crawl into the 40s, they are often accompanied by cold brisk winds.  Hope is on the horizon for the upcoming weekend though and I have Friday off.   

   


 


Plant removals are proceeding as planned.  Sometimes it takes a while but once I make the decision to bid a plant farewell, I don't mess around.  Truth be told I am waffling a little on the Corylus though.  So far I've pruned out the back third and I keep trying to convince myself that I can make it work.  But a plant of that caliber deserves a site where it can strut it's stuff and the current spot is not that place so I really just need to bit the bullet.

Last weekend I removed Rosa 'Carefree Sunshine' from the middle of this very visible garden along side the patio.  Next to go is Hydrangea serrata 'Blue Billow' .  Based on the research I've done, this plant prefers more shade than sun and although it does not get full sun in this garden it clearly gets too much.  Either that or it's just a dud.  Time will tell.  Pearls of wisdom from anyone growing it successfully would be greatly appreciated.

Believe it or not but I have no definite idea about what to plant in this now available real estate.  I'm starting to see visions of a Ensete maurelii or Colocasia 'Diamond Head' as a focal point centered in a large decorative container.  Stay tuned...






For comparative purposes, here's a a picture of this garden taken last July.  Like most of my patio plantings, choices lean heavily towards annuals, tropicals and tender perennials. 





At the opposite end, I grow a variety of shade perennials.  The tree is a beautiful specimen Acer palmatum 'Katsura', one of my favorite plants in the garden.  During a freak snow storm in October 2011, it suffered fairly extensive damage including multiple split trunks.  Except to prune out snapped branches, I left it alone and so far it's doing quite well.   




Last spring I shuffled some of the plants in this garden around which stunted them slightly.  By late June everything was starting to fill in nicely and none of the impatiens had succumbed to blight yet.  This season I expect the perennials will fill in the space almost completely.  Now if I can just leave well enough alone, maybe I won't miss the impatiens.





A few plants from the list, like late additions Hibiscus syriacus 'Sugar Tip' and Cornus sericea 'Silver and Gold', are listed not because I'm unhappy with them in their current spots but because I think they would show off better under different conditions.  If I don't find what I think will be the perfect home elsewhere in the garden, they will stay put-at least for this year.

Fortunately the majority of my perennials have yet to show signs of life.  A cold spring is the weekend gardener's friend.  Next week I'm taking a chance and having the gutters on my house replaced.  Don't tell anyone I said this but I'm hoping the chilly weather persists at least until then so as many plants stay dormant as possible.  If my front shade garden gets trampled I'll need to be sedated.  Perhaps liberal use of crime scene tape around the area will do the trick.

One of the moves from my list that I'm excited about is the replacement of a damaged and diseased Viburnum with a previously poorly placed (try to say that three times fast) variegated Eleutherococcus.


 

Use your imagination and humor me here.  Wouldn't a fountain of white and green variegated foliage make the perfect textural contrast and really brighten up this spot?  Last year I made a decision to remove some gardens and simplify the ones that remained in front so I would have more time to concentrate on the gardens on the sides and in back of my house where I spend the majority of what little leisure time I have.  So far I have yet to reap any rewards from that shift.  Maybe this will be the year.

Just a quick note regarding the Tetrapanax I have listed under new plant acquisitions...I plan to grow this hardy in the ground.  Plant Delights has it listed as zone 7b and I'm zone 6a/b.  However Louis Raymond (Louis the Plant Geek) grows one hardy in the ground in nearby coastal Rhode Island (probably a solid zone 6b). 

A few years ago local zone pushing plant geek, Steve Silk gave me a small Tetrapanax to try.  Because it was later in the season I decided to over winter it in the garage which turned out to be a bad decision.  Steve has had one growing for ten years in his garden in nearby Farmington.  I've already chosen a spot on the south wall of my shed where the protection and drainage should be sufficient.  If you have any additional advice on growing Tetrapanax, I'm all ears.

Sue~



31 comments:

  1. I am impressed. And, I am not a gardener. Mr LOL takes charge there. But after seeing how organised you are and that 'list', I feel inspired. Cheers!!!! (Now if the snow would move on - even better.)

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    1. Don't be fooled by my list-I'm not the most organized person in the world. Fortunately the snow appears to have moved on but we're not out of the woods yet!

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  2. I'm very willing to allow the cold to remain until your gutter job has been completed Sue. (I have company coming for Easter and can't do a thing outside.)

    I too am impressed by your planning ahead. I have plans too, but they relate more to tree/branch removal and the contuous weeding & edging required here. New plants tend to just happen for me. Gardening does too. I'm the gal who wanders around the place with the latest plant in hand, searching for a free spot.There are many I covet, but they never seem to appear at local nurseries for some reason.

    I trust everything will look magnificent at youir homestead this year too and expect detailed progress reports. Please!

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    1. Marie, I do plenty of the walking around with plant in hand routines too. Usually new plants just happen but every so often I get a hankering for one I've seen. Fortunately we seem to have a good selection of unusual woody plants around here. Perennials not so much.

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  3. Wow! very impressive Sue. You are way, way ahead of me with border cleanup and planning for 2013. Today's warmer temps finally have melted most of the snow from the gardens and Im hoping to be able to do some cleanup Sunday AM. I'm teaching Friday and Saturday so can't get any garden work done until after

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    1. The majority of border cleanup get done in the fall here when I can toss all the debris into the street with the leaves. In the spring I cut Clems, Grasses and all the cut back shrubs. By the look of it, the upcoming weekend may cooperate for garden work. Fingers crossed!

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  4. Good progress, and it isn't even April yet. You have lots more to do, but a great start. (I love your deep teal fence)

    Yes to a white and green variegated plant under your tree in front -- Kevin Wilcox has an interesting variegated hydrangea (H macrophylla Mariesii variegata) at Silver Spring Nursery -- would that fill your spot? Here's his facebook profile of it -
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.312815375487919.1073741827.211009102335214&type=1

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    1. Laurrie, that stump in the picture is the Eleutherococcus 'Variegata'. I cut it way back just before I moved it. Believe it or not but the plant right next to it is a H. macrophylla Mariesii variegata. I've been growing it for years. From what I understand there is a new sport of it available now that blooms more reliably.

      Last night I went to hear Nancy DeBrule speak at the CT Hardy Plant Society meeting. I'm not a member but they hold the meetings practically right down the street from my house. Next month Kevin is the speaker and I will definitely attend. I'd like to check out his nursery too.

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  5. I'm really enjoying seeing your list revisited Sue, and can't wait to see it all come alive over the next few months! My Hydrangea serrata 'Blue Billow' is on the west side of the house, gets about 4 hours of direct sun, blooms reliably and is low maintenance. It used to receive a lot more shade until I lost a huge oak tree, but it was fine with more sun last year. I also have several Hydrangea serrata bluebird in various spots and had to move a couple because they were getting too much sun. Have H. macrophylla mariesii variegata in partial shade and love it just for the foliage - when it blooms (which in my garden is sporatic - perhaps every other year?) it's fabulous! Have a couple of shoots that rooted if you want some.

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    1. For some reason I just can't get this 'Blue Billow' to bloom even after giving it what I consider to be a prime spot on the patio.

      'Bluebird' is one of the nicest and most reliable lacecaps for me. H. mariesii variegata is nice but my absolute favorite Hydrangea for foliage is 'Lemon Wave'. I have it planted in three spots now.

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    2. Thanks Sue, I just looked up Lemon Wave and have added him to my 'Plants to Buy' list! Sorry Blue Billow is being so stubborn, I usually give it a cup of North Country Organic's Pro Holly (4-6-4) in the spring, other than that it's on its own - if I get any chutes from mine I'll give them to you.

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  6. I'm in full spring mode here Sue, and got a quote yesterday on having some trees removed /limbed up that came in way under what I expected. Pulling the trigger on that project for sure. My lists are similar to yours, I write them down in a spiral notebook by month, and either cross them off if I get them done (or change my mind, lol) or move them to the next month.
    Maybe that spot needs a nice Miscanthus 'Rigoletto'

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    1. No Miscanthus-with the exception of 'Morning Light' they usually flop like crazy in my partial sun conditions. A few years ago I tried the dwarf 'Gold Bar'. So far it's a dwarf all right-it's never gotten more than 1-2 feet tall. Actually it should be on the "Plants to Move" list...

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  7. Sue, I love seeing your brain whirr. You already have a fine garden, but like most gardeners, you need to change it. In some ways, this may be a need to complement spring's newness with new looks in our gardens. In any case, it shows again that a garden isn't ever done until the gardener is.

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    1. Lee, I'll be that one in the home tending the raised gardens from my wheelchair.

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  8. Just stumbled across your blog. You are a lot farther along your list than I am on mine, good inspiration!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! If I can manage to maintain the momentum and not get derailed by weather and social obligations I should be in good shape. We'll see...

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  9. You are very well organized, and what is more, your lists are clear and legible. I do make lists but no one can read them, sometimes not even me. As to the spot under the tree, how about a mass of siberian bugloss? If you want variegated, there are several variegated varieties, Jack Frost etc.

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    1. I love Brunnera and have various varieties planted throughout the garden. Lately I'm finding the foliage isn't holding up as well though-especially in dry soil. For this particular spot I think the height and form of the Eleutherococcus will best give me the look I am trying to achieve.

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  10. We don't have Tetrapanax here due to our zone, so no help I can give. The hydrangea you speak of is not one I am familiar, but I have found serrata slow to establish. They are more picky on soil conditions keeping roots cool, but seem to be tolerant of light sun for good bloom. I have Blue Bird here. You really have organized beds. It is still a bit early for us to clean beds of debris mulching them, but I have no problem waiting. You get a lot of color in your beds in summer. Look forward to when the weather obliges.

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    1. Finally the weather seems to have obliged-at least for the weekend. I've been out scouting the garden for a better spot for this fickle 'Blue Billow'. I've got both H. serrata 'Bluebird' and 'Preziosa' growing in dryish conditions and western exposure and they perform and bloom well. 'Blue Billow' has me stumped.

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  11. I'm not familiar with or haven't grown any one of the plants you mention. But if you're looking for a variegated grass, how about 'River Mist' sea oats? It's really pretty and likes shade. I'd spray paint a body outline in your shade garden and then wrap with crime scene tape to keep the workmen out. A cattle prod should work wonders, too. :o)

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    1. Chasmanthium 'River Oats' in another plant that has so far been a dud for me. Maybe I started with too small a plant and should buy a large robust specimen to give it a fair shake. Last fall I moved the puny one I had. So far it seems to be alive.

      Gutters are being done on Monday. The contractor told me his crew was very conscious of where the put their feet but let's face it, I've unintentionally stepped on my plants when working in the garden. At the very least I'm going to cage the Hellebores.

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  12. I see several good locations for your new sycamores.

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    1. What was your address again, Jack?

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  13. I've seen the Tetrapanax in person at Plant Delights and it is amazing. I wanted it badly but was afraid to try it based on Tony's description. It sounded like it would either die or take over my entire yard. Too close to call, really. It's hard to believe it would make it in your zone but if it's growing in Rhode Island, I say go for it. It is a stunner!

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    1. With winter protection, a sheltered spot and sharp drainage supposedly it will grow here as a dieback shrub. I grow Musa basjoo in a protected site on my patio with no winter protection. It's one of the most asked about plants in my garden. Tetrapanax with not likely become invasive in my zone but It's sounds like it's vigorous enough to establish with some help.

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  14. Like you, I am forever moving things around. The earlier the better! I do cheat things a little and move plants beyond when I should. I always time the move to coincide with days of overcast weather or rain. I find it helps tremendously with the shock of the move.

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    1. The earlier the better is the key. Ideally I like to get all the woody plants moved by the beginning of April. I find they settle in easier and do much better the first season. Perennials it depends although the earlier the better for them as well.

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  15. It's always fun to change things up, isn't it? This year I'm hoping to have a tree out front removed that looks like it's on its last legs. Hopefully that will allow some more sunshine in the front of the house so I can get something worthwhile growing there.

    This weekend cooperated with weather, thank goodness! I've been out both Friday and Saturday doing a little raking. My arms and back are screaming though!

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  16. I'd be out of my depth handling this. I don't have a green thumb at all... I'd end up inadvertantly killing the plants.

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