Plants suddenly perked up. No longer strugling in 90+ degree heat they put on a sudden surge of growth. Meanwhile, with Labor Day behind us I started making the rounds to various nurseries around me. Prices of plants drop as the stores induce customers to start planting in fall. It is the perfect time for planting now and the nurseries have a chance to get rid of their stock before winter. Of course, nurseries will also put their remaining annuals on sale, but I have little use for them as they will die as soon as the first frost arrives in another month or so. Instead I concentrate on small trees and shrubs to get the backbone of the garden in place.
Just as Agway/The Farmer's co-op on Route 206 between Princeton and Hillsborough became my favorite stop after work on a bi-weekly basis back when we moved to NJ, now I discover another Agway nursery not that far from our new home. I wander around the grounds; trees, shrubs, roses, perennials... it is like being a kid in a candy store, but better. I make the rounds at other nurseries and discovery Herbein's, again not that far from us. Their sales are great, the assortment of plants unbelievable and again I fill up my car with an assortement of shrubs and perennials. The next week I am back for an eight foot Blue Atlas Cedar. We had one in our old garden, but it was planted six feet away from the garage and the family room, not exactly the right spot for a tree which can reach majestic heights and width. At first we limbed it up, which actually allowed us to look out of the family room windows. A decade later the tree reached the top of the second story of the house and tree branches knocked on the upper windows in every breeze. This time I called in an arborist and had all of the branches growing towards the house and the garage removed. Instead we now had a two dimensional tree; growing out towards the garden but no branches towards the house or the garage. And it still was a magnificent tree.
Now at our new property I plant this eight footer far away from the house, far away from our potential new neighbors. It will have a chance to grow up and out and reach its potential. For now it looks like an akward teenager, but give it a few years and it will start to turn into a specimen tree in our yard. And then one day, when the plants in the backyard are growing and maturing I will suddenly realize I have another blank canvas out front, albeit with a nice blue Atlas Cedar surrounded by a lawn. Today I mulched a generous area around this Cedar, in preparation for years to come when I get another chance to make lawn disappear and instead create another garden. I can hardly wait!