Archive for June, 2016

The Path

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Going into the Front Yard

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Going towards the Back Yard

This path runs along the north side of the house. It’s shady and grass won’t grow here, and it was all slanted away from the house and muddy in the rains. So we decided to redo it.  We leveled the area and brought in several bags of walk-on bark to create a nice walk along the house. Then we tackled the front area which was another muddy spot which sloped to the lawn. We got some nice stones and laid them in a rising pattern going into the back and planted Corsican Mint (Mentha requienii), a lovely ground cover that smells divinely of fresh mint when you bruise it as you walk past. It’s made an ugly eye-sore into a pleasing path from front to back. It ties the whole garden together so we can walk around the house to see everything. Not much work for a nice return…

Walking gently,

Steve

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Acer palmatum “Sango Kaku”

I wanted a nice tree to walk in under as we came up to our front porch. I didn’t have the room to plant a big tree so I planted a smaller one that gets maybe 25-30 feet tall – big enough for my purposes for sure. In the following pictures I’ll show you how it’s grown so well over the last few years. It was small when we got it and I had to pick one that would allow me to train it so that it wouldn’t block the paths and stairs around it. I did a lot of work to accomplish that, including at one point tying it up so that it was straight, more or less. I dunno if that was really necessary but it worked and now it’s full and big and does the job I wanted it to do. See for yourself!

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April 2010 – shortly after planting

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October 2010 – with some nice fall color

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May 2011 – after a year’s growth

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August 2011 – getting a bit sprawly

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January 2012 – in a little bit of snow – why’s it leaning?

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August 2012 – much fuller now – getting big

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May 2013- nice spring growth

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November 2013 – bare after leaf drop. See how skinny it is?

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May 2014  – lots of growth!

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November 2014 – Fall color – see how the tips are going last? Last to grow – last to turn…

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July 2015 – still skinny

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October 2015 – gentle fall color – it gets brighter!

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March 2016 – just starting to grow – see how red the new growth is?

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April 2016 – in the rain – makes it look huge and cool-looking!

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June 2016 – today – big enough to be a real tree to walk under now – finally!

It’s a bit hard to believe that this tree grew from a few sticks in 2010 to this 20 ft tree in about 7 years of growth. It’s still growing as I write this so I know it’ll get even bigger this year -and it’s still a baby in tree years. I did manage to accomplish my goal of keeping it very narrow so that we can walk up the stairs and into the garden without hitting our heads on the branches.

It’ll get a lot wider and still another 10 feet of of height perhaps and pictures I’ve seen of big ones make me kind of shudder – it’s going to be a big tree here, despite it’s being classified as a “small tree” in my books. It doesn’t get quite as big as the straight species which will get over 40 feet – even 50 for a really big, old one.

This one will do for us. It’s also known as the Coral Bark Maple for the bright red stems it puts on when they first come out. It’s supposed to resemble a tower of sea corral in Japanese, thus the name – “Sango Kaku”. Its lovely in winter, especially with a bit of snow on the ground around it. As they age the limbs turn an undistinguished brown but I still like it fine.

It’s pretty common in nurseries and even the big box stores (where I got mine! – eek!), so if you like this you’ll probably be able to find it somewhere in your area, depending on where you live of course. But common doesn’t mean it’s not great ya know – just that a lot of us like it… 🙂

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip thru memory lane with this wonderful tree. I only had a couple of good shots of the really excellent fall colors it turns – from the yellow I did show to a striking reddish orange that you can see from up the street. It’s a beautiful tree and I’m happy to have it to walk in under when I come home. Maybe you could do this too…

Rising from the sea…

Steve

Sorbaria sorbifolia “Sem”

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It’s a little hard to see what’s what here but the plant I’m focusing on is the little one in the lower middle of the screen, to the left of the Daphne and the right of the Globosa Thuja. It’s a little thing now and it was so pretty with its many colored foliage when we got it. This is taken in October of 2010, a couple of months after it was planted. It’s common name is Ural False Spirea and it’s native to Russia, Kazahkistan and  Siberia. It’s Very hardy and is one of the first plants to leaf  out in late winter. I’ll show you how it’s grown over the last few years in the following pictures.

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This is the next winter as it starts to leaf out in February 2011

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By May 2011 it’s gotten quite large already, and you can see the many colors of the leaves here. Just a hint of things to come!

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Here it is in July of 2011, all green now

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March of 2012 – leafing out nicely

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Just a month later in April 2012

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Late March 2013 – getting wider

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Lots of growth by July 2013 – all green and big now

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Late November 2013 – Looks so much smaller when it’s bare doesn’t it?

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Leafing out in March 2014

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Lots of color by April 2014

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May 2014 – a bit bigger…

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February 2015 – just leafing out ( Daphne in bloom next to it…)

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March 2015 – good growth now

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April 2015 – so much bigger in a month!

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Early February 2016

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April 2016 – getting big now, with great spring colors

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June  2016 – Wow! This shows how it looks now

I hope you’ve enjoyed the profile of this unique plant. I see many of them in nurseries looking so sweet and tiny and fluffy and soft.  Like a big fern. They look like you could put them anywhere. But watch out!  They sucker like crazy. This started out with only a few stems and now it’s got dozens and spreads over some 4-5 feet of ground and is over 6′ tall and wide. You can see the remnants of the flowers on this one too. They look like a spirea which is why it’s called a False Spirea I assume. It’s a beautiful plant if you have the room for it. Just make sure you do or it’ll be a monster! But a pretty one at least… 🙂

Happy Summer Solstice!

Steve

 

Elegant Elegans

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At planting in fall color in October 2010, pretty small – 18″ maybe

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Early February 2011 – no growth yet, but good color all winter

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After one seasons growth – December 2011

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Next summer – June 2012 – lots of growth

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July 2012 – strong tip growth

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November 2012 – Tons of new growth!

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May 2013 – Beginning new growth

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October 2013 – Very big now…

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November 2013 – Wow…

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April 2014 – pruned up some for walkway

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May 2014 – full growth

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November 2014 – Fall color beginning

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March 2015 – Green again

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July 2015

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November 2015 – Good Fall color

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February 2016 – Coming out of  Winter

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February 2016  – Getting tall now

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June 2016 – Yesterday

I know this is kind of a long strange post, but it seemed like the best way to show off the growth of this amazing tree. It’s got to be one of the fastest growing trees I’ve ever come across. As you can see it sometimes put on 3-4 ft of growth in one year. I’ve seen Coast Redwoods do 5-6ft but that’s in their habitat. This one really likes it here in our Sanctuary and I’m so pleased to have it.  The botanical name is Cryptomeria japonica “Elegans” and it’s better known as a Sugi in Japan.

It’s one of my “pettable” trees, perhaps the finest, with it’s elegant soft needles that don’t ever prick you, as so many conifers do. It’s billowing branches lift and drop in the breeze to create a delicate show of foliage that intrigues and softens the landscape. I love that it turns such strong colors in the fall and winter as well.

All in all one lovely tree, and just one of many (over 2-300) cultivars of this amazing Cryptomeria, the National Tree of Japan. It clearly likes it here in our peat bog in Seattle too. I hope you’ve enjoyed this retrospective of this beautiful tree.

Thanks for visiting our Garden,

Steve

Red Fox Katsura

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This is a selection of the Japanese Katsura tree known as Red Fox, or botanically as Cercidiphyllum japonicum Rot Fuchs, which means red fox in German. The name is pronounced as CAHT-soo -ra, not caht-SOO-ra as most folks say. Just being picky, but why  not get it right and be culturally sensitive all at once? It’s called Red fox because the branches are supposed to look like a red fox tail. Maybe…

I tried to grow this tree a few years ago in a different location but the wind snapped it off at 4′ and ruined it. I would have tried to let it grow but it was rotten inside, which is no doubt why it broke. But it’d been too long from the nursery so we had to eat it and in time we found a new spot for one and a new tree to fill it.

We planted it in the middle of the surrounding shrubs in February of last year, and it surprised me greatly by growing well over a foot and a half. I’d been led to believe it was a slow grower. Not so. It’s growing well again this year so far and I think it’ll do as well or better than last year. That pleases me.

This tree comes on with deep reddish foliage you can perhaps see at the tips of the branches, if you’re lucky. If not just trust me. 🙂 As summer comes on it turns a deep purple blue color that fades to bluish green towards summer’s end. Then it goes wild and turns gold with reddish tints and has a smell of cotton candy. Lovely!

It’s supposed to be a smaller tree than the species, which gets to 60ft all around in gardens and much larger in the wild. It’s an important timber tree in Japan and is logged commercially there for many uses. This tree will only get to 20-40ft tall and 15-20ft wide, so they say. We’ll see how it goes in time.

This is an unusual tree and I’ve frankly never seen a full grown one except in pictures. I put a lot of faith in those pictures and hope it will grow well and proportionately in my garden. I think it will but it will require some pruning at times I’m sure. Still, it’s a lovely tree and I’m so happy we found it. It looks great to me. I hope you agree.

Lovin’ the purple…

Steve

Evolution of a Garden

I love going thru my photo album and looking back at the garden as it’s grown. I have almost 4,500 pictures so far, dating from 2007 to the present. I’ve been wanting to do a retrospective for some time to show how things have grown over time. So I’ve arranged 3 particular shots over the years in chronological order so we can see each section of the garden and how it’s grown over the years.

Except for the first row where there is no garden, the shots are arranged to show first the front of the garden, then a side view, and finally a back sort of view. Not all these are the same shot of course, but I managed to find ones that seemed to show what I wanted pretty well. Over the time these shots encompass we go from a simple lawn with a few foundation shrubs at the back and some fruit trees to a dense garden full of plants. Unfortunately we lost both of the big Cherries and a large rhododendron. So this garden has a mixture of styles and formats due to the changing of the canopy and other factors.

I might have done things differently if I’d known the trees would die, but who can know those things? I’ve tried to replace them with other trees that will be nice, but there will never be a canopy over it again. That’s OK tho,  because there will be a different look to it as the conifers at the back and sides get bigger and provide an enclosure for the garden on 2 sides. Somehow I managed to have all deciduous trees in the middle of everything so in the winter the center of the garden is bare but the sides stay green, and the underplantings stay green too. It’s a nice effect.

If you scroll down each line you can get a sort of slide show effect and see how each area has grown each year. Or you can click on the first one and go thru them that way so you see more. In fact I recommend you do that to see the full pictures.

I took the last set just a couple of days ago so they’re recent.  This is how it looks today, tho it’ll be different in a few months after the conifers grow more. It’ll take many years for this garden to mature, and we’ll never get to see it all, but I’m amazed at how much it’s grown in such a short time, so who knows? We’re planting trees we’ll probably never live to sit in the shade of, but other folks will get to. Planning for a future of green…

I hope you enjoyed this look back in time,

Steve

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