Tuesday, April 3, 2007

To Create, First You Must Destroy

As gardeners we are, as a whole, nurturing people. We like to see things grow. We take pleasure in saving things, in moving a plant from place to place to find its perfect spot. We move and we take our plants with us, like old friends. But there are times when something just has to go– a perennial, a shrub, a tree, that has not performed, or has "over performed" or was planted in the wrong place from the start and is now too big to successfully transplant. Sometimes it takes a neutral, disinterested third-party to bluntly point this out.

The other day, the younger daughter and I were starting to do a little garden clean up when she pointed to two shrubs and said, "Those are really ugly and they need to go." I guess in the back of my mind I thought the same thing but tried to convince myself that they served some sort of purpose, I suppose to spare myself the work of ripping them out. They are (were) two yew shrubs planted under a crabapple tree, which is itself planted too close to the house. They were supposed to be trimmed topiary fashion, but I never had the time or inclination to keep up the trimming. In some cases having shrubbery at the back of an ornamental bed provides a nice backdrop or "canvas" for what is planted in front. It stops the eye from gazing beyond what is the intended sight. It is part of the classic English style mixed herbaceous border. In my case, the bed is next to the house, so the house itself serves that function.

The benefit to using yews or other evergreens in the landscape is that they are evergreen and it can be quite comforting to look out in the garden on a cold dreary winter day and see something green and living and know that spring will surely follow. In this particular instance, I can’t see this bed from the house and we never walk that way in the winter because that is where the snow plow guy pushes all the snow from the driveway. I do spend a lot of time there in the summer and I would much rather have a flowering shrub, such as a hydrangea (there are three Endless Summer in front of what used to be the yew shrubs and a small rhododendron, as well as spring bulbs). I was thinking of putting in another rhododendron for some spring blooms or the new Blushing Bride hydrangea that would flower later in the summer, since the others have done so well there, but Alexa asked if she could do the planting and, as I want my girls to enjoy gardening as much as I do, I think I’ll let her.

The Professional Staff at Countryside

Here at Countryside we take great pride in our profession. During the winter months we all further our education by attending seminars and trade shows. A lot of the staff have also gone to great lengths to obtain a certificate sponsored by the Illinois Nurserymen’s Association and become Illinois Certified Nurserymen or ICNs. The newest member of our staff to get this certificate is Kim Hartmann of the Greenhouse Staff. In honor of this achievement we are sponsoring a little contest called :"Stump the ICN Professional." Come in, find any of our ICN professionals and ask them a question. Make it a hard one so it really puts them to the test! In return we will give you a coupon good for $5.00 off your purchase that day. This is a really great way to get to know our staff and save some money in the process. They are looking forward to hearing from you!

Karen Campney

The Greenhouse Staff Skips Work

The other day Richard and Lori were out of town so the greenhouse staff decided to "play hooky," and we all went to the Chicagoland Flower and Garden Show at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. The Flower show is undergoing some changes and appears to be in a "rebuilding" phase, but it was still worthwhile. I guess it is hard to wow industry professionals, but I personally enjoyed the Triton College display, with its dry creekbed of blue glass. Jana was impressed with the tablescapes displays by various flowershops and college floral design classes. I know we all enjoyed the wine tasting booth at the end of the day. Well, actually I guess it was before lunch, but we all still enjoyed it. The next planned outing will be in August when we go to the Ball Seed Field Days in West Chicago. The Ball Seed Gardens are gorgeous and we’d like to take you with us. If this is something you would be interested in let us know. E-mail Marcy at Marcy@countrysideflowershop.com and we will keep you posted on the details.

Weather Alert

Temperatures will be falling this week with the possibility of SNOW! Actually, the snow will be most welcome if the temperatures drop as predicted as it will help insulate your plants. If you have already planted some of the cold tolerant annuals, pansies and violas for example, you may wish to cover them. Use an old sheet NOT PLASTIC. If you don’t get to it, don’t worry. You may lose the flowers and the leaves may get a little "frost-bit," but the plants should be okay and they will re-flower. Planted containers should be brought into the garage. If your bulbs are up and flowering, cut and vase the flowers to enjoy inside before they freeze. If your shrubs and perennials have started to leaf out you may notice leaf margin burn later in the season as they mature but overall they should be just fine.

And speaking of bulbs, if you get the chance before the snow comes, drive down Woodstock Street in Crystal Lake and just east of Oak Street on the north side is a lovely display of naturalized scilla. Along with crocuses (crocii?) and iris reticulata, these are some of the first bulbs to bloom in the spring. They look fabulous naturalized in the woodland garden or even in the lawn, as in the lawn of the house on Woodstock Street. We often are asked what is meant by "naturalizing," and this is a perfect example.
Until next time...Happy Gardening!


J said...

I think I know this place! The tiny blue flowers are like a carpet over the whole lawn -- it is beautiful! I look forward to it every spring and always make a point to drive by and see it. I would love to have something like that in the wooded area by my home -- a little touch of blue to go with the white and yellow daffodils that are already there! -J

countrysidegardener said...

Thanks for your posting. Scilla are bulbs planted in the fall, along with daffodils, tulips, crocus and hyacinth, to name a few. To naturalize bulbs over a large area, dig out the entire area, toss in the bulbs, fertilize, then cover with soil. In a smaller area, toss the bulbs randomly, then use a trowel or bulb planter to plant them where they land. With either method, make sure the bulbs are root side down, and don't forget to fertilize and water in well.