Kathryn prepares for planting day.
The first shipment of plants arrived in the back of Max’s pickup truck. We lined them up for inspection, like so many little soldiers, and examined them against the plant list, and against expectations.
Max checks through the inventory of plants.
A plant in a six inch or gallon size pot doesn’t generally match the mature specimens seen either in other gardens or in on line photos. In fact, some of these infants are unrecognizable from their adult counterparts.
A perfect morning to begin the planting.
The first to be planted was not one of the new plants however, it was the one we’ve had the longest in anticipation of a new garden – a present from friends on Bainbridge Island it’s a lovely purple Cotinus, Smoke Tree, variety unknown.
Mark plants the Smoke Tree, the first of many plants to be added to the new garden.
The leaves will turn a nice bright orange as fall goes along. In the spring the leaves will re-emerge along with a delicate, spidery flower that lends the tree its name. This little guy has a long way to go before he starts smoking, but at least he’s finally in the ground.
Next I planted five Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’, Lenten Rose. The nice thing about Hellebore is that they bloom in the winter, when not much else is going on in the garden, plus they have a lovely, long standing flower, a nice whiteish-pink bloom. These shade lovers are also deer resistant, which isn’t a factor for us, but is a common problem in many Puget Sound locations.
Flats of Babys Tears, Brass Buttons, Sweet Flag and Ferns ready for planting.
Next in are a few Hosta ‘Halcyon’– the most slug resistant variety, some Iris Siberica ‘Siberian Irises’; a Phygelius ‘Devil’s Tears’ Cape Fuschsia; and Agastache ‘Acapulco’; a variety of Sedum -‘Matrona’ which doesn’t look like anything right now, and a mix of grasses: Acorus Gramineus ‘Ogon’ (a golden variegated Sweet Flag with great color); Briza media, Quaking Grass; Carex Testacea Orange Sedge and the fabulous Stipa Gigantea Giant Feather Grass, the latter not yet close to stately stature it will acheive. Grasses are great for adding texture to your garden; they’re hearty as all get out and drought resistant, too. While I put in these plants Mark planted the Juniperus scopulorum “Skyrocket” juniper, the Buxus Sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’ Dwarf Boxwoods that continue the existing low hedge up to the new path, and a number Taxus Baccata “Fastigiata” Irish Yew.
The Japanese glass floats re-set into the new plant beds.
The design calls for placing the Japanese glass floats in a pattern that suggests water flowing from the dish rock. Before we planted much in the glass float area, the floats needed to be set in. So in the midst of planting the above, we took a break and washed, dried, and replaced the floats in the landscape so we could plant around them with confidence. They look great!
And speaking of placement, I left an unplanted space in the southwest bed because a tree was designated for that spot, and we’d need unfettered access to it. When Lisa designed this bed, she did not specify a tree so we checked with Max for recommendations. We want one with a canopy that won’t spread much or get too tall, 20’ to 25’ high is plenty, just tall enough to block the view from the neighbor’s bedroom window. Max gave us a few recommendations, I won’t go through the list here (ping me if you’re interested) and from that we selected the Stewartia pseudocamilia Japanese Stewartia, so named because its spring flowers resemble a camellia. We also like its conical shape, fall color, and its perfect size. It’s a slow grower, so an 8-foot specimen like the one we got is going to take a while to reach maximum height.
The Japanese Stewartia settles into its new home.
When the tree arrived Mark dug a giant hole for it, cut off the burlap, and with a bit of a struggle (an 8 foot tree probably weighs well over100 pounds) and the help of a hand truck, the tree was in and I finished planting the bed with some Helictotrichon sempervirens,Blue Oat Grass; Lavandula x Intermedia ‘Grosso’, Fat Spike Lavender; Monarda didyma ‘Rasberry Wine’ Bee Balm; and some little Erythronium, Dog Tooth Lilies that are nothing but a nubbin right now. Along with the Stewartia came a whole flat of fabulous looking Ophiopogon planiscapus Nigrescens, Black Mondo Grass. A selection of ground covers – Soleirolia soleirolii, Baby’s Tears; Sedum ‘Angelina’; and Leptinella ‘Platt’s Black’, Brass Buttons will be planted once we have put a layer of mulch down over the planted areas.
A couple of tips about planting for the uninitiated, you’ll need a spade, extra top soil in a bucket or in the wheelbarrow, a trowel, garden shears, a box knife, a rake, and your gloves. You’ll use the box knife to cut through stubborn root bound plants. Don’t be shy about this; you want your plant to establish new roots which it will do more quickly if you get rid of some of the tough old ones. Another great garden tool is one of those new fangled garden rakes (we picked up one at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show last February) that have a sliding mechanism to vary the spread of the tines so you can get in some pretty tight areas with your rake. Tighten the tines and turn the rake over it acts like a cross between a shovel and a pitch fork. When you’re ready to plant, dig a nice size hole, mix some top soil into it, press the plant firmly down into it so it makes good contact with the bottom, and shovel your soil in around. Fill in completely, pausing every few plantings to smooth with the rake. If you encounter troublesome roots while you’re digging your hole, use your shears to cut those off. And I know it sounds silly to say this, but don’t forget to water when you’re all done for the day. You don’t want to hunker down with your favorite cocktail and your feet up only to realize you have to go back outside and turn on the sprinkler.
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in October when I wrote this, we also cleaned up the vegetable garden, picked the last of the tomatoes and readied for colder weather. Raking up the leaves from the seven maple trees that are planted on all sides of our property keeps us busy with the rake and the compost bin from October until the end of November. The sun umbrellas were taken down and Mark hoofed them up to the attic until next May.
Max has also delivered a variety of shade-loving plants for “The Grotto”, which I’ll talk about in a subsequent post. More about ground covers soon, too. This post is long enough!
A composite photograph of the newly planted beds.