I have been busy in the garden during the past two months. Local nurseries were visited multiple times and I managed to find gems as well as bargains, with the gems being “slightly more expensive” than the bargains.
As I am developing my new gardens a few favorite perennials keep turning up. One of these favorites is the Heuchera or coral bells, a North American native which has caught the attention of breeders over the past decade or two. Today there are many different varieties of Heuchera with colors ranging from dark red to bright greens, yellows and oranges, with or without ruffled edges, some with contrasting veins running through the leaves. Several Heucheras from my old garden were moved to our new lot and now I am adding more. At one local nursery, which also grows most of their own plants, I found LARGE pots of Heuchera, variety ‘Caramel’ for $8. I bought three. A week later I went back and bought two more. One slightly more expensive ‘Plum Pudding’ Heuchera (twice the price and half the size of the ‘Caramel’) also found a place in the garden.
In order to create privacy as well as shade in the garden I concentrated on finding shrubs which will provide both within a reasonable amount of time; years rather than decades. In the fall we planted a row of Arborvitae ‘Emerald Green Giant’ on the back fence line, but I had to leave a gap under a large Linden tree planted about five feet off our fence line on the neighbor’s property. All winter long I pondered what to put there when at a wholesale nursery (which is also open to the public) I found Prunus laurocerasus 'Schipkaensis' or Schip (pronounced ‘skip’) cherry laurel. It has large shiny evergreen leaves, is a fast grower, it can handle shade or sun and does well in clay soil. In other words, it is a great addition to our garden as a privacy screen and it will fill the gap under the Linden tree (in the shade) just fine. At $45 for a five foot plant, I purchased seven. During a trip at Costco I noticed they had the exact same size plant for $35 a pot so I bought four more which found a place at the fence in the side garden. A month after planting I already have six inches of new growth for the plants in the side garden in full sun and those on the back fence in the shade.
Last year when we moved into our new home this garden was in full sun with only a bit of shade provided by the neighbor’s Linden tree and the silver Maple tree in the back corner of our lot. Two small trees, a Cornus Kousa (Dogwood) and a Cercis Canadensis (Canadian Redbud) were added once the pond was put in, each providing a puddle of shade. Now with the back fence planted with a growing privacy screen, I am moving shade lovers such as Heuchera, Hellebores, Coleus and Hostas at their feet and suddenly I have the beginning of a woodland walk. The garden I envisioned in my mind is slowly coming to life and the transformation is magical.