Amongst a number of spring plantings, mostly singles plugged into whatever small gaps remain in this thirty-one year old garden, there are two areas with more extensive new plantings. One is the partially shaded area where a large, failing Alaskan cedar was removed in late winter. A slightly larger area borders the small, newly constructed octagonal greenhouse, which has been a handy addition crammed full protecting new purchases from late freezes, and also for starting seeds for cardinal and hyacinth bean vines that are now beginning their climb into evergreen shrubs.
A Korean Sweetheart tree (Euscaphis japonica) will someday become the focal point of the planting between the summerhouse and the greenhouse. Someday, since in its second year from hardly more than a twig that was planted it remains shorter than the neighboring ‘Dark Towers’ penstemon (above). The Sweetheart tree is making excellent progress despite minor damage in two mid-May freezes, and I’ve understood from the start that after a few years the character of plantings in this area must change as it turns from part sun to more shade.
Just up the slope from the greenhouse, a low wall of twelve to eighteen inch boulders was constructed, with gaps filled in shaded parts by sedums, and native coral bells (Heuchera) and rock cap ferns (Polypodium virginianum, above), and in sunnier spots by a variety of hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum, below). Japanese Forest grass and seedling hellebores tumble over from the top, and brighter areas are planted with terrestrial and lady slipper orchids. I plan to plant more lady slippers into the area, though I am concerned that exuberant growth from those mentioned and various other plantings will not leave adequate space.
I am pleased by the choice of a narrow, conical ‘Dee Runk’ boxwood to anchor this otherwise perennial and bulb planting, though the boxwood will require trimming after a year or two to keep the proper narrowness. All of this is planted with overhanging branches of two ‘Silver Cloud’ redbuds (Cercis canadensis ‘SilverCloud’), with the greenhouse placed in the nook between the two aged trees.
My wife notes, and I agree, that leaves of the redbud are much whiter this late spring (below). This must be attributed to the cool first half of spring, and I do not doubt that the white will mostly fade to green by July. Certainly, ‘Silver Cloud’ stands out, perhaps too loudly for some, but it is quite a favorite, and I’ve never given a thought that I might prefer one of several improved introductions available in recent years. These require no improvement, at least not in this garden.
The new planting just below the kitchen window, where the Alaskan cedar blocked much of the view into the garden, and shaded this part of the garden more than I gave it credit for, will be an improvement once it grows in. Instead of a single massive evergreen there will be many treasures, and already the view from the window is much improved. New plants were added to the daphne, spireas, and hostas remaining that were planted near the cedar, and once this becomes wonderful I most certainly will remind my wife that she demanded that nothing taller than a daffodil be planted.
Though her thinking, to keep an unobstructed view from the window, is correct, a Wheel tree (Trochodendron arailiodes, above) will perfectly frame the garden view. Perhaps some day it could grow too large for the space, and I am likely to begin referring to the this as a “Wheel bush” to avoid unnecessary conflict, though I’ll be long dead by the time it could become a problem. Nearest the Wheel tree is a Tea-of-Heaven shrub (Platycrater arguta ‘Kaeda’), an uncommon, small hydrangea relative, and just above is a wall of small limestone boulders with a planting of a variety of Hart’s Tongue and spleenwort ferns. There are, of course, hellebores and assorted oddities, and a red leafed Strawberry begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera) that should spread to keep weeds in check until everything else grows in.