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Meadows Farms' Garden Blogs

Favorable Conditions for Flowering

In recent years, several Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia, below) flowered sporadically with an increasing canopy of shade beneath tall maples and tulip poplars along the forest's edge. In late summer last year, a limb of one maple that arched far over this side yard garden fell on a breezy afternoon, fortunately inflicting only minor damage on a Japanese maple and barely missing a pergola.

Posted: 5/22/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

A Beautiful Day for Getting Outdoors

The sun is shining after several chilly, rainy days, and the weather has turned for the better. In the cool morning, deer and rabbits were seen at the edges of the garden. The koi pond is home to a variety of creatures, but until this afternoon I was unaware that there are now at least three turtles, and three or more Northern Brown water snakes.

Posted: 5/19/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Perfect for Shade

For better or worse, this has become a shade garden, at least parts that border a strip of forest along the southern edge of the property, in front, and along the northern border where dozens of trees I've planted over three decades have grown in. This leaves only an area in the center of the rear garden where there's a spot of sun, which is mostly occupied by the large koi pond.

Posted: 5/15/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Another Tree Or Two Would Be Nice

Yes, there are a lot of trees in this acre and a quarter garden, too many if you listen to my wife, whose opinion is hardly considered in these matters. If not for the dozens of Japanese maples (almost forty), dogwoods (a dozen or more), and ones, twos, and threes of many others, the garden would be considerably sunnier.

Posted: 5/12/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

The Best of the Garden

Too many parts of the garden disappoint when photographed. The gardener's eye compresses the view, while the camera minimizes plants, making only the most congested scenes appear worthy. Yes, there are sheds to crop out of the photograph, along with weeds, broken pots, piles of branches, and shovels left to be picked up another day.

Posted: 5/8/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

The Best Day

My best recollection is that late May into the first week of June is the peak period for this garden, not for blooms alone, for there is no better period than when redbuds and dogwoods (below) flower in mid April, but there is a day when the gardener looks at his creation and considers that it cannot possibly be lovelier than on this afternoon.

Posted: 5/5/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Where Are the Snakes?

Our snake is back. Two Northern Brown Water snakes terrorized the pond a year ago, or at least the two unsettled my wife, and made me watch every step along boulders that border the pond. The koi (and a few goldfish) seemed indifferent to the snakes. In this large pond, perhaps they are not a threat to fish, and feed only on frogs and other small creatures.

Posted: 5/3/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Baby Jacks

Recently, I extolled the virtues of hellebores, and the profuse numbers of seedlings that require occasional thinning out, but also encourage sharing with other gardeners. Today, I'm pleased to report tiny seedlings that I am quite certain are from Jack-in-the-Pulpits (Arisaema triphyllum and others, below) planted in recent years.

Posted: 5/1/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)



A year ago, flowers of the Silverbell (Halesia carolina, below) were ruined by an early April freeze that most notably damaged tender new leaves of Japanese maples and mophead hydrangeas. While damage to the Silverbell was minimal besides the lost floral display, damaged foliage on maples and hydrangeas was evident through the year, with some trees and shrubs not recovering fully until growth this spring.

Posted: 4/28/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

A Perfect Day for Planting

This Sunday was perfectly timed, a cool afternoon following a rainy Saturday, with more rain moving in this evening that is expected to linger for a few days. This was a perfect day for planting, cool enough that the afternoon sun barely raised a sweat, and with rain on the way to get new plantings off to a splendid start.

Posted: 4/24/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

More Japanese Maples Than Necessary?

Yes, there are more Japanese maples (Acer palmatum) in this garden than necessary, but there is no need to count. There are thirty, or forty-some, but this is not a contest, and certainly there are gardens with finer and more numerous maples.

Posted: 4/20/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Strolling the Garden With My Wife

Yesterday, I accompanied my wife as she strolled through the garden, pruners in hand. Anyone who has followed these pages will be aware of her destructive tendencies, and thus I walked along to distract her and possibly to limit the damage. Along the stone paths, no branch or stray leaf is safe, and she takes particular pride in scalping trailing stems that creep an inch onto the stones.

Posted: 4/18/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Seedlings for Sons

Yes, I've prattled on for weeks about hellebores that began flowering early in February, and many of which remain in bloom the second week of April. Enough, or perhaps too much, but now seedlings of hellebores are readily identifiable, and again there are dozens, probably hundreds.

Posted: 4/13/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Native Trees for April Flowers

Even with lengthening hours of daylight, my morning commute is driven in the dark, with few distractions besides the glare of headlights. At the work day's end, snarled evening traffic often requires a more circuitous route home, and in early April the drive along winding roads is blessed with numerous redbuds, the occasional serviceberry, and dogwoods ready to burst into flower.

Posted: 4/11/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

An Early April Stroll

Words can hardly describe the beauty to be seen on a stroll through the garden in early April. While flowers of magnolias might capture the gardener's attention, he should not be distracted from other, more subtle beauties.

Posted: 4/6/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Marvelous (and Possibly Sturdy) Daphnes

Flowers of the variegated Winter daphne (Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata', below) opened near the beginning of March, which is not abnormally early despite prolonged warm temperatures through much of February. In a few years, daphnes have bloomed in this garden in early February, but also the third week of March after a chilly late winter, and regardless of early or late the flowers are occasionally damaged by a late freeze. 

Posted: 4/3/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Three Decades in the Garden

For one reason or the other, few gardeners will be around a single garden for three decades. Staying put for so long is no accomplishment, but there is a benefit in witnessing Japanese maples grow into middle age, to budget a modest expenditure each year that grows to fill a property so that no part feels incomplete.

Posted: 3/31/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Ahead of Schedule

Fortunately, much of the clean up that is necessary to prepare the garden for spring was accomplished in February. Mild temperatures encouraged the gardener to be outdoors, and while abundant flowers of hellebores (below) and witch hazels distracted from the task at hand, a bit of labor was managed so that the garden was not its typical disaster at the start of March.

Posted: 3/27/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

By One Name or the Other

From a pup, I was weaned on a mishmash of common and scientific plant names, and while I can hardly claim proficiency in either, probably I'm less comfortable with the common forms. While others say andromeda, I think Pieris (japonica or floribunda), and when writing, my leash must be yanked a time or two so I don't stray too far from more familiar plant names. I think Edgeworthia chrysantha, but must write paperbush.

Posted: 3/24/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Have a Plan?

There should be no argument. The gardener is advised to have a plan before visiting the garden center, to go in with a list, if not of specifics, at least one that broadly defines his needs. Perhaps it is enough to think "I need a flowering tree" or "a Japanese maple", or "a screening evergreen", and then see what best fills this need when you visit. 

Posted: 3/21/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)
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