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Unexpected and unexplained

The young gardener understands that things will go wrong, but expects that there will be fewer issues as he gains experience. And then he tends his garden for a decade or two, with fewer, but continuing unexpected and unexplained occurrences, and he wonders if he will ever figure this out. No, he will not, at … Continue reading

No better place

What better place is possible than here, today? Could there be anything more beautiful than this winding, potholed Virginia back road decorated by flowers of redbuds, dogwoods, and a scattering of serviceberries? Abundant redbuds in full bloom lean far out from the tall canopy of maples and poplars, reaching for sunlight, while less numerous white … Continue reading

A passion for parrotia

Not every garden needs a Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica, below), much less two, but then, a garden need not have Japanese maples or hydrangeas, or whatever marvelous plants if the gardener prefers otherwise. A garden of clipped hedges without a single bloom might delight one gardener, no matter that I am unlikely to give it … Continue reading

A delightful iris

Until recent years, Iris bucharica (below) was a favored spring filler between paperbush (Edgeworthia chysantha) and a Fernspray cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Filicoides aurea’). But, and there are arguably too many buts around this place, the paperbush grew much wider than expected to shade the irises. For once, I plead innocence. I am the victim of … Continue reading

Wood poppy, and more

Small clumps of wood poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum, below) are spread through the shaded side garden that adjoins the forest of shallow rooted swamp maples and tulip poplars. In many places, a hole could not be dug through the roots, but a cover of leaves that are shredded and spread creates a thin soil layer that … Continue reading

Now, this is spring

In recent weeks, a scattered few blooms promised that spring was on the way, contrary to evidence that winter was taking its time leaving. Finally, three eighty degree days banished cold temperatures, prompting flowers and foliage to progress quickly. Not that I’ve caught up with the garden’s chores, but every minute of every weekend cannot … Continue reading

A hasty transplant

This afternoon, it occurred to me that with warm weather on the way, the time to transplant an Oakleaf hydrangea that has grown too large in the front of the house is today, or forget about it until October. The worst time to move the hydrangea is next week, with emerging leaves that would certainly … Continue reading

A false alarm

Happily, a hard freeze forecast for the weekend turned into a light freeze, so flowers of magnolias (below) and cherries suffered no damage at all. With warmer temperatures on the way, it’s apparent that flowers will make it through with only minor damage to the earliest blooms, an unusual situation and mostly due to flowering … Continue reading

Spring bulbs

Too often, I’ve been stingy, and perhaps overly optimistic in planting ten of a bulb when twenty-five are more appropriate, or twenty-five when a hundred or two would be best. Each spring I note that a larger planting of crocus, or of Winter aconites (Eranthis hyemalis, below) is in order, but when late summer ordering … Continue reading

Could be worse

There’s never a shortage of tribulations and trivialities for the gardener to whine about, and he does. He curses the snow and ice, but also rain that saturates and shatters perfect flowers of peonies. Particular venom is reserved for heat and drought, but it is cold, and especially cold too long into spring that is … Continue reading

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