shall we take another walk?

THE RAIN HAS DRIFTED AWAY and so I thought we’d take another walk, yes? More areas of the garden are coming alive gradually, so let’s go see. (If you didn’t come along last time, you can always backtrack, by the way. The beauty of the internet: It’s realtime, or anytime.) Click images for the best views.

The potted Japanese maples (above) that overwinter in the barn are leafing out beautifully, despite a late hard frost I thought would take them from me.

walk9You can see them in the far background in the next photo (left), too, sitting at the top of the driveway where the front garden begins. The driveway used to come all the way up beside the house to where this shot is taken from, where my oldest magnolia, ‘Ballerina,’ and many favorite perennials now make a much more beautiful view for me year round from my windows than the gravel surface and passenger side of my car and truck ever did all those early years.

walk7The pots are just outside the lower left corner of this next picture (above), taken from the driveway. Soon no mulch will show, once the rest of the perennials leaf out. And in another month I can take out the bamboo stakes that are marking off the areas along the garden edges, where I have lawn repairs under way. Pray for the seed to sprout before the birds take all of it.

walk6At left, we are just a little farther uphill (and my whole place is on a hill, so everything is always either “uphill” or “downhill” from where you are now). The front walk, used by nobody but opportunistic plants like ajuga, is flanked by many large bleeding hearts this time of year, which will then disappear underground in summer. Some of the numerous lilacs in the garden are in the background.

walk5Looking uphill (there’s that word again), left, from the big magnolia’s bed, you can start to see the gold foliage of the three young Metasequoia ‘Gold Rush’ that will eventually call to you more loudly from a distance, I hope, helping connect the lower parts of the property with the upper reaches. Gold foliage is great for that, to draw the eye and really shout instructions to the visitor: “Come here, this way!” Looking down from that uppermost field (above), where the metasequoias are, a view of the only flat strip of land I have ever gardened on, my “back yard”. I painted the house last year, and as you can see from the darkest of olives and the hottest of orangey-reds, I have a high color tolerance. And then some.

I didn’t acquire much in the way of a garden when I moved here more than 20 years ago…but I did get the last survivors of an apple orchard, trees easily more than 75 years old. There are only six still with me, and this is the one (photo below) that I love the most (don’t tell the other five).

walk1Nearby I have planted groupings of the old apples’ smaller-fruited cousins in the genus Malus, a total of 10 crabapples. These two Sargent-type ‘Candymint’ crabs (below) are wonderful for their decidedly horizontal structure, as nice in winter bareness after all the fruit’s been taken by the bird as it is all trussed up with blooms right now. Thanks for coming along today.


  1. Debby says:

    So glad to have discovered your blog, Margaret! I bought your book years ago, when it was first out. I was captivated by the ginormous petasites and now have it in my garden. Also loved the stacked terracotta pots–such accessible garden ornaments/ landmarks. And they ARE practical. Slugs congregate under them so are easy to dispatch. I’m most vigilant in spring, when delectible ligularias and hostas are emerging.

  2. margaret says:

    Welcome, Debby. You picked a cold day for a walk, but glad to have you. Also glad you like the cairns of stacked, overturned pots…not sure if I feel good or bad that you are growing that naughty Petasites, however. Love and hate that plant!

  3. Betty B says:

    I just saw the Martha Stewart show today and thought what a good idea to look at your blog as it is sooo cold and snowy here in North Dakota on News Years Day. It is always a treat to look back on last summers flowers to warm one up and make us a little more cheerful. Anyway the picture of your Japanese Maple that you have planted in a pot- do you think I could raise one here in North Dakota if I took it inside in winter and stored it in the basement where it is maybe 60-65 degrees or could it be stored in an outside building? It has actually been 20-30 degrees below zero here the last week, but of course it doesn’t get that cold inside a outside building. Well anyway I would love to have some maples here in N.D. I love your blog site and will continue to view it as this long winter continues.
    Betty B in North Dakota

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Betty, and thanks for starting 2009 with us. Generally speaking, you can store a large pot of a slightly tender plant in an unheated building if it’s perhaps one zone less hardy than your area–meaning If I am Zone 5 or perhaps the cold end of 6, I could store a Zone 6/cold end of 7 plant pretty safely by just bringing it out of the cold and wind and heave/thaw cycle of the open outdoors. With some plants you get even luckier, but that’s the safe rule of thumb, I suspect. HOWEVER (and there is always a however), if you let the plant get dry during thaws inside the building, it may perish anyhow…so I check when the weather is up-and-down and just make sure nothing’s too, too dry. Last winter I watered the maples slightly two times; not a lot, but just to prevent dessication, especilly later in the winter.
      I don’t think you can push Japanese maples inside an outbuilding there without a little tinkering, unless it’s perhaps attached to a heated building and stays substantially warmer than your outdoor lows. (I bet if it’s minus-30 outdoors it’s -20 or colder inside your outdoor buildings, no?) I’d only try it if you have reason to believe the building stays at the equivalent of at least Zone 5. And they won’t like staying awake all winter in your basement at 60 or so. I get away with this because they are marginally hardy in the ground here…some friends nearby risk it and grow them right in the ground. I’m not trying to push two zones or more.
      Oh, and some varieties are hardier than others; something to note when shopping if you go ahead.
      So cold storage, yes…but too cold, no. I have known committed gardeners to use a very small heat source to adjust an outbuilding just enough to store the plants they craved. We are a nutty lot, aren’t we? So definitely take some actual temps in your potential storage areas this winter and see if you have the right home, or can create it.

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