Covid-19 Season Contemplations and Garden Pictures

Essay by Margaret Bowen

Staying-at-home this spring has provided a rare opportunity to work with my husband on our property.  Normally a regular on the golf course, he has been present every day and had the time to explore with me the needs of our plantings and to enjoy their beauty.  With the pent-up energy born of being housebound, we have both attacked with relish the pruning of overgrown Roses of Sharon, yews, holly and forsythia.  Chopping away at the limbs was so satisfying to my husband that he cut down a 12-foot tall witch hazel to a mere three feet!

It was also possible to protect our tulips from a bumper-crop of rabbits by spraying rabbit repellent and by covering them with prickly holly branches.  Sightings of our local woodchuck/groundhog have been frequent.  A coyote passed through the backyard one morning in search of its prey.  Then we removed two huge yews and discovered a nest of baby bunnies.  Yikes!

It’s been a time of re-attunement with nature.

Photo Credits

Pictures courtesy of Margaret Bowen: In the first picture there are roses and rose campion in the foreground with sedum and candytuft on the rocks.  In the background center are rhodies and on the far right is a rosa glauca shrub (flat flower), lemon thread shrub & catmint. In the second photo the white flowered shrub is deutzia ‘niko’, the blue is baptisia and behind are a barberry and a golden spirea.

Pictures courtesy of Janice Daley: Oh, the bunnies! Oh, the bees!

Picture courtesy of Barbara Tatum: The bright blue plant mid-photo is Pulmonaria “Trevi Fountain” blooming with Woodland Phlox “May Breeze” (I hope the phlox comes back! It was new in spring 2020.) The coral bells are “Pink Fizz.”

Plant This With That, January 2021 Virtual Meeting via Zoom

A 90-minute presentation to 50-some garden club members covered six garden scenarios  comprising more than 70 perennials, shrubs and bulbs, kicking off the first DCG program of 2021. The Jan. 12 event was hosted by President Barbie Saraceno on Zoom; she reported that 26 people from the Cottage Gardeners Club accepted DGC’s invitation to the event.

The evening’s speaker was landscape designer Laura Bibler, whose firm, In the Garden, LLC, is based in West Newbury, Mass. Her “Plant This with That” lecture covered plant selection, design, and cultural requirements. The talk offered the audience a comprehensive and rich gardening lesson. Although focused on plant pairing, as her title suggested, Laura reminded her listeners of the multiple factors that determine a successful garden.

For example, she pointed out that since plants are typically purchased in bloom, it’s tempting to forget their appearance will change dramatically from the beginning to the end of the season. Knowing the different iterations of a plant helps to ensure pairings work well over several months.

Thanks to a handout distributed to attendees by Program Chair Sarah Bates, this spring gardeners will be able to plan their own full-sun to full-shade gardens and those in between using the suggested combinations. Some examples were goatsbeard and hosta, Russian sage and phlox, and red twig dogwood and boxwood.

The event was a hugely valuable lesson. Gardening fundamentals like sun exposure as the deal breaker and the rule of planting in odd numbers were interspersed with the West Newbury designer’s advice and observations. Use certain tall blue irises for their significant foliage rather than for their transient flowers. Cut back ‘Becky’ daisies three times for repeat blooming. Go to the public website for Van Berkum Nursery, Deerfield, NH, for excellent information. Laura said it has the best perennials but sells only on a wholesale basis.

Acer palmatum diss.atropurpurem Crimson Queen’ (Laceleaf Japanese Maple),
Deutzia gracillis Nikko’ (Deutzia), Cotoneaster dammeri Coral Beauty’ (Cotoneaster)
Piceapungens Glauca Globosa’ (Global Blue Spruce), & Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace Purple’

A recording of the Zoom presentation is available at the DCG website in the ‘Member’ section through January 2021.

P.S. Additional notes from ‘Plant This With That’ Presenter Laura Bibler

The wholesale perennial nursery I spoke of is Van Berkum in Chester, New Hampshire.  This link will bring you directly to the plant information page:  http://www.vanberkumnursery.com/perennial-photos-catalog/.  Another good source for information on trees and shrubs is Millican Nursery, also in New Hampshire.  They sell only wholesale, but their website’s plant index is open to the public.  This link will bring you to that page:  http://www.millicannurseriesinc.com/plant-index.aspx. The bulb catalog website is https://www.johnscheepers.com/.  Again, they have a wealth of information on their site.  In addition to the two nurseries that I mentioned, Lake Street Nursery (in Salem, NH, nice selection of Roses too) and Russell’s Garden Center (in Wayland, far for you!), Corliss Brothers and Wolf Hill typically have a good selection of perennials.  
There was a question about pruning Hydrangea quercifolia.  Would you let your club know that the flowers are formed on the previous year’s growth, so it should be pruned after flowering.