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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)

A Chilly Week in March

Following a chilly week in March when temperatures regularly dropped into the teens, damage to flowers and emerging leaves was expected. The gardener's question was, how much damage, and would injury to new leaves do harm as a late freeze stunted mophead hydrangea growth a year ago?

Posted: 3/20/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

March Weather is Variable, For Better and Worse

Though the gardener barks at the chilly breezes, he is aware that weather is variable, particularly in March when there might be temperatures in the seventies and teens, sometimes within the same week. Still, he has been spoiled by the mild temperatures of late winter, and now he pouts over a period of cold.

Posted: 3/16/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Snow in March - What to Do

Note – The following post is copied with minor revisions from March 2013 and January 2016. Both occasions followed significant snow storms of a foot or more, but many of the same principles apply to Monday night and Tuesday’s storm that is expected to drop up to a foot of wet snow. 

Posted: 3/13/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Before the Storm

With word that more cold is on the way, and probably significant snow, I lingered in the garden to enjoy for a few minutes longer than typical on a chilly afternoon. The past few nights have not been quite as cold as forecast, but still damage to magnolias is evident. A week ago, I felt fortunate that 'Dr. Merrill' and 'Royal Star' are shaded, and delayed in flowering until after nights when temperatures dropped into the teens, but the tardy blooms gained only a few days until the next freeze.

Posted: 3/13/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

A Small Collection of Early Flowering Magnolias

Jane magnolia - early AprilA swath of forest borders the southern property line so that tall maples and tulip poplars shade much of the garden through the winter, until the sun takes a more northerly route to bring much of the rear garden into afternoon sunlight by mid spring. The winter shade is not dense, filtered through deciduous trees, but it is enough to delay flowering of magnolias by a week or longer than ones just up the street. 


Posted: 3/10/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Freeze Damage to Flowers, Cherries, and Dogwoods?

Last evening, a local television weather person lamented the demise of cherry and dogwood flowers in the recent freeze, while cautioning that more of the same cold was on tap for later in the week. Clearly, she was not a gardener, for the damaged blooms were cherries and magnolias, not dogwoods. 

Posted: 3/9/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Minimal Damage from the Freeze

Flowers of Winter daphne opened in seventy degree temperatures a week ago. Now, many flowers have been injured after 19 and 16 degree nights.

With a swing in temperature from seventy-five to sixteen within a week, the gardener is not surprised that some damage is done to late winter blooms. There is relief that injury to flowers and to newly emerging leaves is minimal in this garden, that probably fared better than others since magnolias and camellias that are most vulnerable to cold damage were delayed by shade, with many flowers not fully opened.

Posted: 3/6/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

The End of Cold Winters, Forever


In this unusually mild winter, and a particularly warm February, it is unsurprising for gardeners to pronounce the end of cold winters forever, all due, of course, to the warming of the planet. Certainly, I cannot recite numbers to document temperatures changes, but from a gardener's prospective I can confirm exceptionally mild winters in four of six years. 

Posted: 3/6/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Expect the Worst?

The tree lilac beginning to break into leaf. It is likely that this will slow down with cooler temperatures, and I expect no damage.

Happily, I report no damage from the first cold night following the recent extended period of late February warmth. While a day or two of mild temperatures is not unusual for this period, repeated days in the sixties and seventies are not typical, with the result that many trees and shrubs are flowering (or beginning to flower) earlier than usual.

Posted: 2/27/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)

Winter's On It's Way Out


I suspect that I am not the only gardener who has gotten a jump on his spring cleanup. In a more typical winter, with only a few spells of warmth I am likely to waste the days in less productive pursuits, and this was true until a few weeks ago. Now, the early weeks of spring must not be consumed by endless labor, though in this one acre garden there is never a lack of chores that must be accomplished.

Posted: 2/24/2017 by Mike Williams | with 0 comment(s)
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