“It’s a Start”

SO I HAD THREE EVERGREENS planted in the front yard to screen the view of the road. Of course, they don’t screen the whole view of the road, just a bit of it. But as the guy from Whitmore’s, the tree farm, said, “It’s a start.”

I’m glad it’s warm and raining now. Two 8-foot trees (a thuja ‘Green Giant’ and a white pine) and a 4-foot-round holly bush that looks like a boxwood (ilex crennata) — in the photo below, it’s the three in the middle ground — went in December 10. Very late, I thought, but there hadn’t been a freeze. That night it went down to 22 degrees.

I wasn’t entirely happy with the way they put them in. I didn’t get the positioning advice I hoped for from the nursery (the boss showed up late), so I had to decide myself where to put them, while four guys with shovels waited. I’d been weighing the factors for two weeks (the need to obscure the commercial building across the street, relate to plants and trees already in place, get enough sun, have room to grow, etc.). It was a tad nerve-wracking, but I think it turned out OK. There seems to be some kind of balance there. And I feel less exposed already. $500 well spent.

I can’t imagine the roots, still in their burlap sacks (said to degrade) are very happy. The workers didn’t seem to dig holes as wide as “the books” say. It was cold, it was late, the guys were no doubt tired. They wouldn’t have watered at all if I hadn’t had several buckets (pots, wastebaskets) at the ready.

But when Brendan, the boss, showed up, he was all professional and confident about flying in the face of what the books say about planting season, depth of hole, width of hole, and need for water.

Oh, and the soil’s no good. I’ll do something about that in the spring.

Anyway, they’re guaranteed.

View from the road:

Fall Plant Shopping

rhamnus_frang_fineline_lrgHAVING BOTH DEER AND SHADE to contend with is kind of like being a vegan. It’s doable, but your choices are awfully limited.

I wanted to do some planting this first fall on my woodsy property in Springs, but I haven’t put up a deer fence yet. It’s fallen off my list of priorities, behind a new roof, fireplace, bathroom, etc.

I spent a recent evening looking over the offerings from several online nurseries, including Deer-Resistant Landscape and Wayside Gardens, and drove myself a little crazy trying to determine whether a plant in a 5″ plant from one nursery for $12 is a better or worse deal than the same plant in a gallon pot for $23 from another nursery.

I ended up ordering from good ol’ White Flower Farm, which is probably the most expensive, but I know from experience that their products are reliable. I chose an alder buckthorn (rhamnus frangula ‘Fine Line’, above) – five of them in fact, to reinforce the straggly privet hedge between myself and my next door neighbors – and three of an ornamental grass that is among the few that don’t require full sun: panicum virgatum ‘Prairie Fire,’ below. They arrived in just a couple of days, disappointingly tiny (these pictures show what they’ll look like, God willing, in a few years’ time).

30074I planted them all yesterday, which first required hacking down five leggy old lilac bushes – rejuvenation pruning, they call it – which you’re supposed to do in spring after flowering, but these didn’t flower last May anyway, so shaded out are they by enormous trees.

Then I spent many hours digging, pulling, cutting, and – with surgical precision – dabbing the cut ends of the evil, never-ending wisteria with Round-Up. (Professionals have repeatedly said it’s the only way.)

I’ve never been a patient sort of person, and I’m generally lousy at long-range planning. My next plant purchase will be something BIG.