Grass is at its most verdant this time of year in deep contrast to the surrounding perennial borders. But with iris, monarda, columbine and phlox reaching upwards and filling out, soon the focus will shift. In the meantime a crescent of viola in the meditation circle are fairly ostentatious and a few hyacinths add color to the northern border.
Last week I purchased more Iberis, one of one of my favorite ground covers. It needs to be planted right away, but rain is pouring down this morning. This is Iberis sempervirens ‘Snow Cone’.
This time of year I hear the garden center call. While many gardeners are dealing with seeds and seedlings, I am just itching to add some things to the garden that offer immediate gratification.
For several weeks though I have been single-mindedly working on garden cleanup and finally yesterday I completed the weeding—I made it around the entire garden and those pesky things will not dare return. Now I can concentrate on some planting fun.
From this upstairs view of the garden one can see much more white fence than evergreen shrub. Succumbing to drought and other excuses, over the years countless shrubs have died out and been replaced, only to have them die out also. The five Juniperus chinensis ‘Blue Point’ (Blue Point Juniper) have been the exception.
I had intended to make a plan to add shrubs to the garden over the fall and winter. The Chuck Hayes gardenia hedge along the back fence has dwindled to a mere five bushes and this harsh winter has contributed further to its demise. Two days ago I dug one gardenia out completely and pruned another way back nearly to ground level to try to revive it. Only one other looks healthy and it is hidden out of view behind the spirea.
Yesterday, without a plan but under the magical spell of springtime, I explored a local garden center to look for new shrubs. The nursery aisles were bursting, with more temptations being unloaded all the time.
Although what I came home with are not perfectly well-suited to the garden, they spoke to me. Shade loving plants for a garden that has little shade? Surely I can convince them to thrive.
Soon I had selected a pink single camellia with a delightful and strong, sweet fragrance. Its name is Camellia X ‘Koto-no-kaori’.
It features an upright form, reaching 8-10 feet at maturity. I will wait a few days to plant it as the temperature is supposed to dip into the twenties this weekend. Koto-no-kaori needs light shade, which will be a bit of a problem. We plan to lop off some lower branches of the juniper in the southwest corner, so I may be able to work the camellia under its protection somehow.
I use to see Acuba growing on UNC’s campus and found those yellow dotted leaves fascinating. Now, realizing how useful its foliage can be in flower arranging, I have been focused on acquiring one. Welcome Aucuba japonica ‘Variegata’ (Gold Dust Aucuba), but where will I put you? Your mature size is 6-10’ H x 4-6’ W and your foliage burns in sun.
One shrub that can take full sun is Buxus x ‘Green Mountain’ (Green Mountain Boxwood). This upright, cone-shaped evergreen is a moderate grower, maturing at 5′ H x 3′ W. It has bright green foliage.
Looking around the nursery I became distracted from shrubs at some point with predictable results. These two sun-tolerant perennials are Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ and Euphorbia ‘Shorty’. I have grown Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ in a pot for a number of years, but finally decided to try some others. These should form nice mounds.
Last fall’s Sweet William seeds are still in their packet, so I bought a healthy-looking clump of Dianthus barbatus ‘Barbarini Mix’. This old-fashioned plant is one I always want in the garden.
Oh, I did find a new gardenia that claims improved cold hardiness (zones 6-10). Gardenia jasminoides ‘Summer Snow’ features fragrant, double white flowers and grows 4-5′ tall. I may even go back for a couple more of these. I hear the garden center calling.