Marty's Garden, August 11th, 2017

It’s official. My birthday came and went and I am now “the big 6-0”. Funny, it doesn’t feel any worse than turning 50, or 40 or even 30. Getting older is pretty much a state of mind or as my grandmother used to say “it certainly beats the alternative – death”. So while I creak a bit more in the morning when getting up I still get around in the garden like before. I think all the gardening, digging, playing in the dirt is what is keeping me young at heart, if not in body.


With a big new garden it is easy to lose sight of the smaller picture; those little vignettes in a garden, tucked away among other plants. For a while I was busy getting the bigger plants in, shrubs and trees, to create the framework for the garden. But there was room for other plants, annuals and perennials, to fill in some of the gaps.


On the south facing slope of the waterfall I had planted a few blue rug junipers (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’) which in time will cover most of the slope. They are drought tolerant, but will need sufficient amounts of water to establish a strong root system in order to thrive. Last year after planting them I watered them regularly. This year nature has provided copious amounts of rainfall on a nearly weekly basis and these junipers are thriving. They are branching out and making their way along the slope. It looked nice but there was something still missing.


In early spring I put in an order for plants including some favorite bulbs; oxalis triangularis. I had this plant in my previous garden and loved it. Although a small plant, it has purple triangular leaves and pretty pink flowers. It also spreads a bit if it finds a place it is happy in and occasionally you will find plants popping up far away from its parents. My plants were in the back yard, but one year I found a seedling in the front garden right next to the house. I still don’t know how that volunteer plant managed to get around two corners and thrive up against the house. This plant is at home in Brazil, it can be grown outdoors (supposedly) in zones 8 through 11 and kept indoors through the winter in zones colder than zone 8. Funny how plants don’t know about hardiness; my oxalis triangularis happily wintered over outdoors in zone 6B and came back in greater numbers most springs. With all the plants I dug up from the old garden, oxalis triangularis didn’t make the cut. Instead I bought two small bags of bulbs this spring and planted them in the back yard near the pond. They didn’t like this spot. I dug up the small plants and inter-planted them among the blue rug junipers. Suddenly this slope looks much more interesting. The purple color of the leaves on this plant also work very nicely with the flowers of the sedum which is planted at the edge of the bed right next to the waterfall. Voila, I created a little vignette in the garden. As the junipers grow and cover the entire slope, the oxalis will still be able to pop up through the branches and the juniper will probably also protect the bulbs underground from the cold during a truly cold winter.


There are still larger amounts of garden to be covered by plants, but sometimes stepping back from the bigger picture and working on a small area pays off big time. It's also easier on those creaking bones; I consider it a win-win.