In case a reader has not been outdoors in recent weeks, or has just emerged from hibernation (or lives far to the north), it’s spring. The scattered few cold nights expected over the next few weeks should not discourage the gardener from getting on with his spring business, whether that’s cleaning up before anything new is started, or getting right to planting. I’ve been saying for a few years, and my wife for far longer, that there is precious little space remaining in the garden to plant, but that has barely slowed me down. No space means that it is more difficult to plant another dogwood, or Japanese maple, but smaller plants can easily be shoehorned into the smallest spaces. And, that’s what I’m getting ready to do.
First, I must must fess up to purchasing a few more plants by mail order over the winter than I’ve admitted to. I wrote several weeks ago that I was determined to hold the line, and that I wouldn’t go overboard ordering in the boredom of winter (as I’ve done many times before). I wrote that four tiny Japanese maples that were purchased will spend a year or two (or longer) in containers until they’re large enough that I must find a spot for them in the garden. Now, they’re really small, but exactly what I expected for the price, and if I had purchased a two year old instead of a younger tree I would have ordered two instead of four to fit the budget. But, I would have only been half as happy with the order, and though I’m not a patient person, four tiny trees are always better than two slightly larger ones. It is arguable if the small maples can yet be called trees, but someday ….., and then I’ll find a spot for them. For now, they’ll go into small pots to sit on one of the sunny patios, and next year they’ll go into slightly larger pots, and so on until they’re planted some day.
In addition to the Japanese maples, on a really slow day (probably with three feet of snow on the ground), I got a hankering to order a few small bulbs of pineapple lily (Eucomis, above) and Paris polyphylla (below), which was treasured in the garden until it was lost in one of the recent horrible winters. I suspect it was given a bit too much sun, and perhaps the ground was a bit too dry, and it’s disappearance in winter was only coincidental. With this past failure in mind, instead of a single plant, I bought a handful, with the reasoning that this gives more wiggle room to figure the perfect spot. And, though the pineapple lilies are marginally winter hardy, I’ve had no problem with others, and these are easy to fit into any small space. So yes, I purchased a few more plants over the winter, but all were worthy selections and this is many fewer plants than I’ve purchased in recent years.
I don’t think the plans I’ve made for spring planting are particularly grand, but perhaps there’s more than I’ve planted in recent years. Finally, the dead hornbeam has been cut down. I procrastinated too long, concerned that damage would be done to neighboring plants, but the tree was going to come down eventually, in a storm or by a chainsaw. The fellows who did the work were obviously as careful as they could be, and only a few branches on a nearby Gordlinia were broken. Now, there’s a void where the tree came down, but not for long.
Along the front of the house, I’ve chopped out a few fading boxwoods that have been shaded for too long, and I’ll be planting a few compact growing ‘Chestnut Hill’ laurels in this space. Beside the laurels, there could be enough room to plant a few daphnes (Daphne x transatlantica ‘Summer Ice’, above). A few somethings are still to be determined, and of course there will always be a few impulse buys once I get to roaming about the garden center in a few weeks that space must be found to plant. Nothing major, just a typical spring that has warmed up and started a few weeks early.