Back in April, I ended that blog by saying I would talk about ‘Gardens – plus and minus’ but as you know the muskrats got in the way. For the moment, they appear to be gone (fingers still crossed) so here are some thoughts on ‘ Gardens – plus and minus’.
When Susie and I started all this, perennials were the thing. They provide most of the colour in a garden. They reappear every spring. They (generally) are long-lived and require less planting work and, especially, less money than buying new annuals every year. Definitely, a win-win or plus-plus situation.
However, they do require care such as weeding, fertilizing and mulching on a regular basis. Occasionally, they disappear and have to be replaced, so they still require you to spend a lot of time on your knees working with them. As one gets older this is less a plus and more a minus…
Last year, at this time, SpindleTree ordered 285 perennials as part of our spring order. This year the perennial order is only 94 plants. Conversely, the order this year has many more trees and shrubs than last year. And that doesn’t include the 123 Thuja nigra (black cedar) we have ordered for the hedge around the Jubilee pond.
Clearly, we are shifting our gardening emphasis from perennials to shrubs and trees. Once installed, they simply require less maintenance on a daily basis (once they’re established, I should add – a lot of watering until then) and, depending on the selection made, they can have a major impact on a garden all year round, summer or winter. The sizes, textures and colours now available in both deciduous and coniferous varieties can quickly modify a garden both in scale and impact.
Bronzine ninebark (Physcocarpus opulifolius ‘Mindia’ Coppertina) and red or yellow barberry (Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea ‘Rose Glow’ or Berberis thunbergii ‘Bonanza Gold’), for instance, add structure and colour that can compete with perennials yet reduce the day-to-day effort in maintenance required. This year we ordered 3 Acer griseum (Paperbark maple with ornamental, peeling orange-cinnamon bark) which will be featured on the ‘island’ in the Jubilee pond along with three Viburnum carlesii (Koreanspice, a viburnum cultivar with delicate grey-green leaves and a heavenly spring scent).
This simple planting plan in a prominent position will have a major impact, spring through fall, on the SpindleTree tour, especially when viewed over the water and against the surrounding black cedar hedge.