The planting bordering the granite cobble and bluestone path leading from the driveway to the rear garden is a bit sparse until very late spring when a variety of toad lilies (Tricyrtis) become shrub-like hulks. With a mid-May freeze stunting spring growth, toad lilies lagged a few weeks slower this summer, and when an overly vigorous yellow flowered False Indigo (Baptisia australis ‘Lemon Meringue’) was cut back several toad lilies beside it were sun scalded in early July heat. Damaged leaves were removed, further stunting progress in filling the area, but it is now just about where I want it.
Perennials cover most of the soil by mid spring, but without the mass of an evergreen, a young, upright branched Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Twombly’s Red Sentinel) anchors the planting. In a few years the more mature maple will make a big difference, and always the garden is a work in progress, so while this small area is a minor disappointment, it won’t be for long.
A variegated honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica ‘Aureoreticulata’, above) has been a disappointment in this sunny spot, so it will be moved into a shadier area, and perhaps an upright evergreen will take it’s place, though I’m tempted to plant a burgundy leafed ‘Burgundy Spice’ sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus var purpureus ‘Burgundy Spice’) for color contrast. ‘Burgundy Spice’ has been difficult to find, so I’ve purchased a small one by mail order that will take a few years to grow enough to show up. The hybrid sweetshrubs are quite vigorous, so it shouldn’t take too long, and it’s a good spot for it now that I consider it. I was figuring the inspiration for where to put it would come once the plant was in hand (as happens typically).
Behind the border there is plenty of mass, with several large hydrangeas, including the excellent, summer flowering ‘Little Lime’ (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Little Lime’, above) and a semi-evergreen Gordlinia (xGordlinia grandifora, below). While the leaves of gordlinia are evergreen, they are just barely so, and every winter all foliage turns brown, so technically this is evergreen, but brown is clearly not green.
The gordlinia is the perfect example of a sprawling shrub, with top heavy branches (and perhaps too little root) leaning in all directions, and if it was not placed against a semi-wild backdrop of intertwined deciduous azaleas and redbud it would be a bit awkward. I planted it when a decade old Franklinia (Franklinia alatamaha) perished in damp ground, and the flowers of the hybrid tree (a cross between Franklinia and gordonia) are a marvelous reminder of the treasured Franklinia, though the shrubby gordlinia hardly compares.