My wife, helpful sort that she is, suggests that I am too old to be digging trenches in the lower garden, trying to salvage waterlogged planting beds and the small section of lawn that was saturated and remains so after an unusually wet year. Hire someone, she tells me, but slyly, after the digging is done.
This is an unwelcome task, one that should not be necessary, but after waiting months, and losing several trees (today another dogwood) and shrubs in the constant dampness, drastic action was required. The trenching has left clumps of mud, raising areas to divert runoff that will be graded once the soil dries, and deep ditches that will be partially filled if the rain stops and the ground dries out. It is fortunate that the problem is mostly confined to the lower garden, so most of the garden has benefited from the unusually high rainfall and a very mild early spring.
Most of the spring planting has been completed, though I await a delivery of several varieties of ferns, and scattered planting is likely to continue into early summer. I am quite pleased with results from last year’s planting, and now all have appeared above the cover of leaves, with only a few too small and not yet identified. There are a few loses, but this is hardly unusual.
A Chinese fringetree (Chionanthus retusus) has caught my eye, to replace a ‘Wolf Eyes’ dogwood (Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’, below) that perished in the swampy ground. Digging and mounding has raised this area by several inches, and the trench has quickly filled with water. I hope this is enough to raise the fringetree out of the muck, and also I’m hopeful that rainfall is not so extreme this year.
Is the trade from dogwood to fringetree a swap for the better? I’m not certain, but the new tree is large enough to fit into this long established garden, and though I could never tire of the abundant flowering and variegated foliage of ‘Wolf Eyes’, the novelty of the fringetree will help ease the pain.