Our Back Deck –  Now

I haven’t posted in here in some time, so in the next few posts I’m attempting to catch up on what’s been happening in the garden since then.  I’m making no attempt to organize or categorize these.  I may not even say very much about some of them.  But I’ll label them and try to date them somewhat closely.  Many of them were taken yesterday, including this one here.  This is what we see when we go out our back door and look to our left.  You can see the stairs on the right and the garage door.

The plants include, from the left: bay laurel tree, beanpole yew, red dragon dissected Japanese maple, carstens wintergold mugho pine, hino white kurume azalea and a primo arborvitae.  Above the roof of the garage by the door is a nandina, or heavenly bamboo.  They get much taller than I’d imagined.  I’ve heard that when they grow higher than the door they bring good luck on the household.  So far so good…

Rhododendron racemosum “Rock Rose” – February

This poor plant has been thru the wringer.  After I first planted it a family of racoons moved in under the garage here.  They trampled the poor thing.  It was well over 3′ tall and they broke the whole center out.  I had to stake it up and put re-bar stakes all around it to keep it safe.  But in the last 2 years it’s come back wonderfully.  It blooms like crazy!

Snow White Lawson Cypress/Chamaecyparis lawsoniana “Snow White” – now

This beautiful cultivar of the Port Orford Cedar is a light blue all year.  Then in spring it’s supposed to put on white edges.  But this is growing in no sun so it only gets this soft yellowish blush to it.  I still find it very beautiful, and it’s so soft to the touch.  It has also gotten quite a bit larger than the 6′ it was going to grow.  It’s 8 1/2′ tall after 8 years.

Entrance to the front garden – now

I planted the Oregon green pine and the Sango Kaku Japanese maple with the intention that they would form an arch to walk under to go into the garden someday.  It’s working perfectly!  I’ve done some pruning to encourage them but mostly they’ve grown just the way I’d planned and hoped for.  You drop slightly in elevation as you enter, so the whole effect is to draw you gently down into the unique little space inside.  I did a post awhile back called A Hidden Gem about this place then.  It’s only gotten better as it’s grown.

The major components of this garden, front and back, are 10 or 11 years old, (or 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – I keep finding spaces for new plants – somehow.  But I digress…)   According to nursery tag labels, which tell you the 10 year height of the tree, and describe that as “mature”, this garden is now mature – and it actually kinda feels like it.  The tallest tree is over 35′ tall and some others are over 20′ or 25′ even. That isn’t tall for a tree, or even these particular trees, but it already feels like you’re in a young forest inside it.  This entire forest resides on a 35′ x 35′ space of land, on our 1/8 of an acre lot.  There are over 150 trees and shrubs in here, and 260 in the entire front and back gardens!  It’s quite a unique collection…

Japanese Tassel Fern – Polystichum polyblepharum – March

This is such a perfect little fern.  The fronds come out so exactly and are so carefully arranged in a whorl out from the center.  I cut it back in late winter.  The new fronds are so delicate and soft, but then they harden off nicely.  It stays lovely and full all year.

Veggie Garden – now

As you can tell we like carrots and onions.  We grow a lot of each.  They both keep wonderfully well. The carrots we store in sand in buckets.  Works great.  The onions in loose open bins in the garage.  We’re still eating the last 15#’s of the  onions now.  The carrots ran out a month and 1/2 ago.  You can also see we like mustard greens, in the right back corner.  I’ve harvested three cuttings so far this year, and there should be many more.  At the left corner is some  over grown Lacinnato Kale, a luscious green.  It’s kinda tough – I’ve found I need to cook it long enough so it melts in your mouth.

Kelly’s Prostrate Coast Redwood – Sequoia sempervirens “Kelly’s Prostrate” – now

We planted this beauty 10 years ago this month.  It was in a 10 gallon can and was obscenely expensive.  But you don’t see many around, so we grabbed it.  At that time it was about 1-1/2′ x 2′ x 6-8″ high.  Now it’s 6′ x 8′ x 3′ tall!  Wow.  It’s got its spring coat on now and is just gorgeous to touch.  So soft.  This is a sport of the tallest tree in the world.  Again – wow.

Pink Icicle Camellia – Camellia hybrid “Pink Icicle”

Not only does this cammelia grow fast, it blooms from February until May.  It has large pink flowers with an orange center.  It’s lovely, but trying to keep the dead ones off of it is a pain.  It looks so much better but I have to bend the tall ones as far as I can to reach them.  So far I haven’t broken a branch.  I hope I never do.  Time for the grabby tool…

Soft Shield Fern – Polystichum setiferum

This fern was only supposed to be a 3′ ball.  It’s over 6′ now, tho it is 3′ tall.  I cut this back to a ball bigger than a soccer ball every winter just before the new fiddleheads appear.  Gotta do it at the right time – not too early so it looks bare for too long.  But not too late or you might cut off the new growth.  I’ve learned this by experience.

Looking into the Garden from the South side – Now

There are a lot of plants here.  Not sure I’ll hit all of them.  But: On the left is a Jade Butterflies Ginkgo/Ginkgo biloba “Jade Butterflies”.  Below it is an Irish Heath.  More on it later.  Then a Baby Blue Sawara False Cypress/Chamaecyparis pisifera “Baby Blue”.  Then the Sequoia I showed you already.  Above it is a nice Howard McMinn Manzanita/Arcostaphyllos densiflora “Howard McMinn”.

The main plant I wanted to show off in this photo tho is the large tree in the middle.  It’s a Vanessa Persian Ironwood Tree/Parrotia persica “Vanessa”.   It grows in a large vase shape.  The new growth droops way down as it grows, but in time pulls the whole tree back up tighter together.   You have to be very patient and not try to prune off something that’s in your way, because it may not be when it pulls back up.  Again – experience is the teacher.

Dwarf Alberta Spruce – Picea glauca var. albertiana f. glauca – now

I put these in for 2 reasons.  One is simply that they’re beautiful plants, especially with their new growth on them.  The second reason is that I wanted to show just how big these little trees get.  They sell them at the Holiday Season at the big box stores as 2ft tall tiny trees.   They actually get this big, over 20-30 years anyway.  The tall one is 11′ tall, and the “short” one is 8′.  And they’re each at least 6′ across at the bottom.  Not quite a table to tree in time.

Weeping Purple Copper Beech/Fagus sylvatica “pendular purpurea”

I planted this 10 years ago to commemorate my brother, who died of AIDS in 2009.  I buried some of his ashes underneath it. I think of him every time I see it here.  I expected a tree with a central leader, which this had at first.  But then it fell over and I had to stake it up to this height.  On the right side I trained the big branch over that side a few years ago.  It’s done so well I did it again last year at the top and I’m doing the new top for next year.  It has very supple new branches that you can direct where you want them with a stick like I’ve done.  No stress on the tree at all, but it holds it where I want it.  This new top will now come down over the front of the tree next year and for many years to come.

OK, that’s all I’m doing today.  My back is killing me from sitting at this computer for too long.  I need to go garden and pull weeds or something.  I’m not sure when I’ll do the next set but I’ll do another dozen sometime soon.  I hope you enjoyed this random look at the garden, and that you come back for the next ones!

Thanks for going along for the ride,


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