Native flowering trees – from the forest to the garden

At the forest’s edge, serviceberries lean far over into the sun, scattered clusters of small white flowers twinkling against the stark bareness of early spring. A native woodland tree, the serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis, below) grows with such informality that I find it ill suited for a position as a centerpiece in the garden. Instead, it is marvelous…

A joyful day

Today, there will be no whining that the paperbushes (Edgeworthia chrysantha) and Southern magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora) are troubled, or that the mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) have died to the ground. Winter has left behind considerable miseries that must be dealt with, but on a sunny, though slightly cool late April afternoon there is too much…

Flowering and delightfully fragrant

The winter daphnes (Daphne odora ‘Marginata’, below) have managed only a few weak blooms near the ground where flower buds were protected from the worst of winter’s freezes, by snow or perhaps just by ground warmth. Though the uppermost buds were damaged, and foliage dropped completely, there are numerous growth buds that are clearly green,…

In the mud and the muck

The lower garden is sinking, I’m afraid. Why, is partly a mystery, but in recent years the back third of the garden has become wetter, for longer periods of time. There have always been times in early spring when sections of the rear garden are wet enough to suck the shoes off your feet, and…

A late start

There are hardly enough hours in the day to keep up with the chores necessary to maintain this garden in early spring. There are piles and piles of leaves to collect. Beneath every shrub and in every corner there are leaves accumulated from the maples and tulip poplars that border the garden, and through the…

The yellow magnolia

On Sunday the blooms of the pale yellow flowered ‘Elizabeth’ magnolia (Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’, below) were perfection. By some confluence of circumstances nearly every flower arrived at once so that the tree went from nearly bare to full bloom, probably within hours though I was not watching at the time. From Saturday evening to Sunday morning the transformation…

A spell of cold

After a delightful series of warm days, this upcoming period of cold is maddening. However, it is not unusual, and it is fairly common for a spell of cold to arrive in April just as the leaves of Japanese maples unfurl. This is when the leaves are most fragile, and tender foliage might be undamaged at…

All at once

Trees that flower in late winter are genetically wired to tolerate chilly temperatures, though still some blooms are damaged by extreme lows that are commonplace in late February and early March. But, when flowering is delayed by weeks, magnolias (Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’, above) and cherries move briskly from bud to bloom, and then quickly fade…

Proper paths

On occasion, I regret that I have given little consideration to constructing proper paths through the garden. Not often, but when a wheelbarrow filled with small plants or compost must bump along over the narrow paths of irregular stones, I think that it would be so nice to have a smoothly paved surface of cut…

Finally

Finally, finally, finally. So often I’ve said finally in recent weeks, the word is practically worn out. Finally, the hellebores (Helleborus spp., above) are flowering, only four weeks later than typical. And finally, flowering of both Star magnolia (Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’) and ‘Okame’ cherry (Prunus x incamp ‘Okame’, below) seems imminent after a considerable delay. Finally, this gets…