The garden escaped the late October hurricane without substantial damage, but storms earlier in summer blew trees over and broke some nearly in half, so there are gaps to be filled and considerable rough edges to smooth. I’ve resisted the urge to replant for the most part. For once I’ll take a bit of time to think about what I should plant. A novel approach, certainly.
To add to the misery, an area of running bamboo was removed in late summer. It has been partially replanted, but I hesitate to plant much until I see how many shoots pop up in the spring. I feel rather certain that plenty of bamboo will come back, and getting rid of it would be complicated by too many new plants in the way. In addition to the bamboo removal, two large hornbeams died after too many years of drought and perhaps with too much competition for moisture from the bamboo. What was once a jungle of bamboo that merged into the shade of the hornbeams has changed to lightly filtered sun from one remaining hornbeam, and neighboring sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum, above) and goldenrain trees. Once spring growth has started I’ll move quickly to add some new favorites to this area (if the bamboo regrowth hasn’t created too much of a headache).
Several large camellias were planted in the shaded area, and with more sunlight they flowered several weeks earlier this autumn. There have been no obvious negative effects from increased sunlight, and I suspect that the camellias and azaleas (both evergreen and deciduous) in this area will prefer the diminished shade. I’ve planted a few ferns that will be ideal in this half sunny spot, a few shrubs, and a clump of Gordlinia (Gordlinia grandiflora, an intergeneric hybrid between Franklinia and Gordonia, with flowers similar to the Franklinia, above), so there’s a start on the spring planting, but there’s plenty of space still to cover.
The main tragedy from the summer derecho was a Seven Son tree (Heptacodium miconiodes, above) that snapped off at ground level. I half expected that it would sprout some growth from the roots, but it didn’t, so the prized tree has been lost. A large hole was left in the planting between the summer house and the swimming pond, and I agonized for a while before settling on planting a red horsechestnut (Aesculus x carnea, below). I’m not certain that I’ll fall for the horsechestnut like I did for the Seven Son, and some day it might be a bit of a concern because it grows larger so it might eventually overgrow the spot. But, it’s a lovely tree, and for the short term it was as large and full a tree as I could afford.
There’s still open space surrounding the horsechestnut that was filled by the wide spreading Seven Son tree, so I’ll fill this with some tall growing perennials until the day the new tree grows enough to crowd them out. I don’t know what yet I’ll plant, but I’m sure it will come to me soon enough, and by summer I expect it will be as overgrown as the surrounding garden.
A third area opened up with the latest disaster to strike, not storm related this time, but an invasion by a nasty Oriental bittersweet vine that covered a thicket of mulberries at the edge of the garden and threatened to leap over to ‘Elizabeth’ and bigleaf magnolias that are planted nearby. To remove the bittersweet, the mulberries were cut down, and then the tangle of brush and brambles was cleared so that now there’s an unacceptably large open area. To my wife’s thinking there’s no such a thing, but I must have every space filled or I quickly become ill. It has taken every ounce of my limited amount of patience to hold off on planting everything at once, but I’ve planted only a few native viburnums (Viburnum dentatum) and edgeworthias (Edgeworthia chrysantha, above) so far, and the rest I’ll work on early in the spring.
I suppose that planting these areas could seem like a lot to manage at once, but I’m delighted to have the open areas to plant. For too long I’ve been challenged by a lack of space in the already over planted garden, so this is wonderful. I can barely wait for March to arrive so I can start planting again. By then, I should have more than enough plants that I’ve just got to have to fill all the open areas (and then some).