Looking at Your Garden With New Eyes

Time to replace, refresh, renew and replant our gardens after a year of extremes that seems to have changed everyone's landscape in some way. Many gardens were either heavily damaged or destroyed due to Hurricane Irene or the Halloween snowstorm or trees and shrubs have outgrown their space or outlived their usefulness. A garden is never static and sometimes we need to look at our gardens with new eyes. Perhaps the ravages of Mother Nature can be turned into a new adventure for the gardener.

The loss of a grand old tree opens up the possibility of a new sunny spot to garden. A shrub that has outgrown its space can be filled by something new and perhaps better--more floriferous, more disease resistant,with multi-season interest, etc.

It's a time to think outside the box. Why replace that rhododendron with another rhododendron when you can replace it with something else--like fothergilla which has vanilla scented bottle-brush flowers in the Spring and beautiful Fall foliage. Although fothergilla is not evergreen I don't miss those rhododendron leaves curled uptight against their branches, as if shivering in the winter cold. Or plan on adding a witch hazel to truly brighten a winter day. On this breezy January day (appearing a little earlier than usual) I see the coppery-orange petals of Hamamelis Jelena out my window, beckoning me to go outside and smell its gentle perfume and delight in its audacity to defy winter.

I love white flowering trees and shrubs and grow some for every season. If you like white, then picture some of these beauties in your own garden. They have all been ordered for the plant sale.

  • Spirea Ogon, blooming early (March and April), before the leaves come out, with hundreds of tiny white blossoms on arching branches followed by narrow bright yellow leaves that turn to bronze in Fall.
  • Or consider Cornus kousa Wolf Eyes, a small tree with big impact in a shady spot. This is an understory tree that prefers shade where its white flowers in June and variegated foliage during the Summer stand out. An added bonus is the striking red and pink Fall foliage color. Plant this where you can enjoy its subtle beauty year round.
  • Fragrant white flowers can be found in June on Magnolia virginiana Green Shadow. It forms a tight oval tree growing to 25 feet and is wet site tolerant, although it does not require a wet site.
  • My favorite white hydrangea is Hydrangea paniculata Limelight which blooms with large cone shaped blossoms in July and August that fade two a pinky tan color. Growing 8 feet tall and 6 ft wide it may be too big for some gardens but now we have Hydrangea paniculata Little Lime that is only 5 feet by 3 feet. Either one will add immeasurably to your collection of white flowering ornamentals.
  • My own garden also boasts the white flowered Clethera Sixteen Candles, whose fragrance permeates the air in July and August, attracting clouds of butterflies.
  • And the... but I'll save some for another day.

Gardens consist of layers--trees, shrubs, flower borders, ground covers, grass, hardscapes (like decks, terraces and patios) and ornamentation or decoration in the form of containers, or sculpture, water features or seating. We can help you blend each of these elements in your garden. Whether you are starting with a clean slate, a garden ravished by recent weather or one that has grown so familiar you don't even notice as you go into your house, the choices that will make your space the garden of Eden await you at the 2012 Plant Sale and our plant experts will help to make your dreams come true.

Sue January 28,2012
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