Having the opportunity to start another garden from scratch is both daunting and exhilarating at the same time. After the pond and waterfall were put in mid-summer last year I spent some time putting old favorites from the previous garden in place while pondering what else to plant. In the fall I found quite a few shrubs and some small trees and this spring I added more. Slowly but surely the backbone of the garden emerged.
Two trees were planted when the pond was put in; one a Dogwood near the pond while the second one is a Canadian Redbud ‘Rising Sun’ (Cercis Canadensis). The leaves on this tree start out yellow and then turn green so at all times you will have both yellow and green leaves on the tree. It took me a while to warm up to this tree. By now I have embraced its “yellow-ness” and turned it into a theme for that side of the raised garden. Three goldthread cypress (Chamaecyparis Pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea Nana’ – yes that is a mouthful) and one Hinoki Cypress ‘Crippsii’ (Chamaecyparis obtuse) are planted near the Redbud. Their yellow and green foliage complement the tree. Three little lemon goldenrod were planted nearby. Unlike the tall wild cousin of this plant it stays around 18 inches tall but will be equally attractive to bees and butterflies during summer and into fall. Last but not least I found Staghorn Sumac ‘Tiger Eyes’ which is the well behaved relative in the Sumac family. Wild Sumac can swallow hillsides but ‘Tiger Eyes’ is smaller and will mature around six feet tall and wide. It is a stunning yellow plant which turns a bright red in fall. Spacing out these plants at planting time allows them to spread and grow together over time and will prevent diseases from overcrowding. The garden may look a little sparse in the beginning when the plants are still on the smaller side and planted far apart but you won’t have to start pruning at year two and every year thereafter.
Another plant which had been on my wish list for years was purchased this spring through mail order. I have always loved red currant berries and each year while visiting Holland I would eat lots of them. They are a bit on the tart side, but with a little bit of sugar they make for a refreshing desert. Unfortunately, the plant is an intermediate host for white pine blister rust and as a result you could not buy or grow them in New Jersey. Now that we are in Pennsylvania I could order this plant and once it arrived I promptly planted it. It flowered and soon the first berries developed. But like so many things in life and in the garden, these flowers grow on second year wood and this "harvest" will be very, very small. Luckily for me it has been happy in its spot in the garden and it is growing many new branches. Next year I should have many flowers on these branches and subsequently more fruit. With luck I might actually get a bowl, or two???
To be a gardener you need to take a long term view. Plants take time to grow and mature and no matter how much we like to hurry up the process, it will take its sweet time. Last fall I couldn’t wait for spring to roll around to see which plants from my old garden had made a successful transition to the new garden. Happily, most made the transition just fine and they are prospering now. Now all the newly added plants are taking their time to adjust to new conditions, soil and moisture and I find myself wishing for time to fast forward so I can see what it will look like next year. But as my garden grows, I grow older with it. My first garden in the Garden State was started when I turned 40. Now nearly two decades have passed and my 60th birthday is only weeks away. It will be a day celebrated with the under gardener, my wonderful Spouse, as well as friends. I weed and dig hole after hole for new plants. I collect rocks from nearby home sites as soil is disturbed during the building process and I build low walls around beds. I collect branches and sticks and outline other beds. I get my exercise while the garden grows and I wouldn’t have it any other way.