Three Quick Transplant Stories

Why on earth would I be writing about transplanting in the middle of the dog days of summer? This is not the ideal time to move plants, unless they are irises, but it is the time to note what needs adjusting in the fall. I moved these plants in mid-June. It couldn’t wait any longer, but ideally you want to move plants while they are dormant, preferably in the spring or fall when temperatures are more moderate, and especially when there is a promise of rain—my favorite time to rearrange plants is the day (or morning) before rain is expected. Continue reading “Three Quick Transplant Stories”

The Final Update on the Leaning Pawpaw

I’ve been eying my bigger pawpaw nervously since last August.
By the end of March, I was sure it was leaning more, and it was leaning too much. It had to go. I’ll figure out what to do with the space later. The best time of year to remove a deciduous plant that you want permanently gone is right when the buds are starting to swell—all that new growth uses up the plant’s reserves—and the buds were starting to swell.

On April 4, I took out my limb saw and cut off all the limbs as well as the main trunk, as high as I could reach on a ladder.

The pawpaw really was leaning more. Photographed on April 4, 2021.

Now I had that trunk glaring balefully through my kitchen window. My bow saw seems to have disappeared. I suspect it got mixed in with some stuff I had hauled out of my basement. I really didn’t want to tackle it with my limb saw. The teeth are way too fine for this job, and the blade is rather short.

On the other hand, I had that dying trunk glaring at me, and a very sharp saw that cuts on both the push and the pull stroke, with a comfortable handle, and the tree was leaning quite a bit. There was no question of where it would land.

It took two weeks to talk myself into using the limb saw. I took the trunk out very carefully, because it turned out that the trillium are multiplying under cover of the Dutchman’s breeches, right in range of the saw tip. I tried not to wreck them. I mostly succeeded—you can see a couple to the right of the stump and just below its near edge.

In the end, I pushed the trunk over and walked and rolled it out of the way.

The end of the leaning pawpaw. Photographed on April 18, 2021.

None of the remaining plants get any shade at this time of year because pawpaws don’t leaf out until May, and the silver maple above everything is just leafing out now. My current plan is to go through this calendar year and see what changes need to be made. Trillium really like shade, so I will watch them closely.

The other pawpaw seems to be fine, so I will leave it alone. They are neat trees. Unfortunately, there will be no pawpaws without a second tree.

Texture in the Summer Garden

A relaxing garden has both restful places for your eyes and focal points to enjoy. Green is restful, but it can get monotonous if it’s all identical, as in a yard with a well-kept lawn, but nothing else. Texture is a good way to add interest without losing the restfulness of green. Massing, an application of the design principles of repetition and proximity, is a great way to develop texture that is sufficiently interesting to lead your eyes to an interesting larger plant or something in bloom. Continue reading “Texture in the Summer Garden”

One of my Favorite Irises, Out of Season

November 12. Answering the question of which iris is my favorite would be almost as difficult as answering the question of who is my favorite child, but right now I am casting a very fond eye at my Iris cristata.

This is one of the edging plants  I wrote about at the beginning of October. By the end of October, the overall color is yellow-green, which looks terrific next to the well-hydrated lawn.

Iris cristata. Photographed on October 27, 2019.

Continue reading “One of my Favorite Irises, Out of Season”

Companions for the Dutchman’s Breeches

My Indian pinks bloom nicely every year, but they do not seem to spread, and they come up awfully late, leaving a bare spot near the Dutchman’s breeches in early spring. 

Indian pinks in bloom. Photographed on June 18, 2018.

Indian pinks emerge about the time that the Dutchman’s breeches start going dormant, so essentially, the bare spot moves over. The answer to this traveling bare spot has been staring me in the face the whole time. Continue reading “Companions for the Dutchman’s Breeches”

Evolution of a Flower Bed

The space under the witch hazel was rendered very sparse by the Scilla bifolia purge last year. The Diamond Tiara hostas survived being lifted, put aside, and put back. The hyacinths that have been there for decades survived being rearranged. The Scilla bifolia seedlings that had the temerity to sprout have been removed.

Time to look at the rest of this rather bare flowerbed and scout for new residents.

The hostas, Diamond Tiara, are filling out nicely. Photographed on May 27, 2019.

Continue reading “Evolution of a Flower Bed”

The Demise of the Exuberant Alpine Scilla

Back at the beginning of April, I spoke of the big mass of Scilla bifolia ‘Rosea’ under the witch hazel. Not big—huge—and spreading like a rash into the lawn—what little lawn I have. They had to go.

I filed my tax returns and decided I had to deal with this plant. These plants. As much as I love their beautiful tiny flowers, they have choked out everything else under the witch hazel and were heading for the Japanese anemones. Continue reading “The Demise of the Exuberant Alpine Scilla”

A Case of Mistaken Identity

This is the sad story of a plant that was not what I thought it was, and the real truth behind any nice garden: sometimes the gardener has to edit brutally.

A couple of weeks ago, I met a new friend for coffee to talk about some local environmental issues. We walked back into the neighborhood together, and stopped at my rain garden. I had planted a little sprout back in May, thinking  it was summersweet. Continue reading “A Case of Mistaken Identity”