Slow and steady

In a garden’s early years, the gardener is perpetually in a rush. Impatiently, he fertilizes and frets over every bug and black spotted leaf that he fears will set the garden back. More important than tomorrow is today, and fast takes priority over slow and steady.

And then, a decade has passed. The gardener is not so anxious, and it’s likely that a plant or two that was jammed too close in his haste to fill the garden, must now be removed. With a more mature garden he is more relaxed. A tree lost to disease, or in a storm, is not the catastrophe he would have imagined years earlier.

The center of the rear lawn was kept open until the kids went off to college. Fifteen years later Blue Atlas and Alaskan cedars, redbuds, and Japanese maples have grown considerably. Still, this younger part of the garden is less shaded than others.

I recall a morning, possibly twenty-eight years ago, when my wife and I looked out the front windows to see cows on the loose from a neighboring farm lumbering through the front lawn. There wasn’t much garden at the time, but I was panicked that newly planted beech and Japanese maples might be trampled. Fortunately, little damage was done, and now the beech and maple tower over the garden. The farm and the cows are long gone, replaced by homes, and the garden has expanded. Small trees have grown to cast deep shade, and large swaths of lawn are now small patches between gardens that obscure the view from one end of the property to the other.

Seedlings of ‘Chocolate’ Joe Pye weed contrast with ‘Banana Boat’ carex. Seedlings vary from dark foliage that matches the parent, that is long gone, to much lighter in color.

In this mid September, fallen leaves of the beech cover a stone path, though not as many as after a typical, drier late summer. The progression into autumn is evident, from falling leaves of beech and serviceberry, to ripening berries, and leaves of dogwoods beginning to turn to crimson. After a cool and damp late August, temperatures are warmer in September, but lacking summer’s heat and drought, the garden is unusually lush. Certainly, there has been another summer as damp, or as cool in twenty-eight years, but none that I recall.

The passsionflower vine dies to the ground each winter. With an early start to spring growth the vine will overgrow its support, but this year it barely reaches the top.
The few brown stems of the bluebeard shrub are not concerning. In twenty years this has been seen before, with no ill effect come next spring. This section of the garden was replanted in recent years after a bamboo grove was removed.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Love the look of your woodland garden; very serene and calming

  2. Carole Cambria Gertel says:

    Thanks for sharing pics of your garden. Spectacular!!!

  3. Bridget says:

    Beautifully written. Thank you.

  4. Dottie says:

    What a beautiful garden! I love the corner under the roof. Nice reading spot! This is a joy to read. thank you!

  5. Dave says:

    Thank you for the kind comments. This planted area is beside the koi pond, the center of the rear garden, and where many of my hours at home are spent.

  6. Do you ever allow visitors to your beautiful garden? My wife and I have been planting a 3 acre lot for 25 years, so I’m feeling a lot of empathy for many of the things you’re saying. Tom & Lesley in Luray

    1. Dave says:

      A time or two I’ve caught sight of someone wandering around out back. There’s no fence, though there are snakes and the footing on uneven stone paths can be treacherous. Anyone is welcome, anytime. I suppose it would be best to make arrangements so my wife knows what’s going on, and to answer any questions.

  7. you have a beautiful garden. where is this located?

    1. Dave says:

      The garden is in northwestern Virginia, USA.

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