A big part of winter interest, that ever elusive but highly desirable garden design element,
are is? (Rose?) the stems of deciduous trees and shrubs. Seen above are Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ (red) and C. sericea ‘Flaviramea’ (yellow).
Newly purchased Cornus sericea ‘Cardinal’ has been added to the above selections growing in the center island that runs along the streetside of the property. The drained of chlorophyll foliage of Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Moundry’, AKA The Thug, provides contrast to the colorful sticks, along with the green wall of Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Well’s Special’. We began with six of the variegated leaf C. Elegantissimas in this bed, but have found them to be less than vigorous in our climate and soil conditions. Half of those died and are being replaced as funds allow. The green leaf types do much better and are just as attractive in the warmer months with better flowering and some berries. None are exceptional during that time, it is the winter when they take the stage to strut their stuff, like a long ago willowy British model with heavy handed pencil drawn eye lashes of the same name as the title of this post.
Last year two dwarf specimens were added to the bed behind the mailbox, C. sanguinea ‘Arctic Sun’. These are still quite small, not the least reason being someone with a pair of felcos taking cuttings, (total failure), last fall. The coloring is more muted, with a mix of coral and yellow. They are planted around a weeping blue atlas cedar and are barely discernable at their current size. Mature height is said to be around four feet tall. The
unknown hardy geranium Geranium sanguineum, name finally located in the old records, was added as a groundcover with its red leaves recently. This may not be the best idea either, but more time will be given for the combination to prove itself worthy. There are plenty of other groundcovers here that could be tried.
Joining the dogwoods with colorful legs are members of the willow family. Three Salix integra ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ , passalongs from neighbors Mickey and Mae years ago, are coppiced in early spring, taking the stems down to about six inches off the ground. The new growth has the best coloring, both in stem and leaf. The leaves emerge with delightful white and pink coloring mixed with the greyish green background color.
The new growth of pollarded curly or corkscrew willow, Salix matsudana is pleasing against the dark green background of the Hemlocks. Two of these trees were planted on each end of the knot garden as sticks brought from the tree in our Texas garden. Simply stuck into the ground, the stems will root. What was not planned on was the size to which these quickly grew. Too much shade, growing into the hemlocks and sucking up all available moisture from the soil made them a very bad choice for this area. But when The Financier had the chain saw going, we just could not go all the way and left the stumps to regrow. The branches can be used for various craft projects and decor. A wreath has been fashioned from them. We do have to remember to keep cutting the new growth or the trees will regrow to mega-size again in the blink of an eyelash, drawn or real.
This truth in advertising shot shows the lack of forethought in the placement of this bright stemmed tree. Whether for camera shots or the naked eye, the background of the compost bin, beautiful as it is, and the too short evergreens, Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Juniperoides’, let alone the untidiness of the whole area does not enhance the viewing, at all. This is one of the last messy areas….no that is not true, this is one of
several many messy areas on the property. In the future it might look better, in fact we need to get the thinking caps into high gear to think of a way to spruce it up, not with spruces though, they don’t do well here.
This Butterfly maple, Acer palmatum ‘Butterfly’ is known for the branching red stems in addition to the beautiful multicolored variegated foliage. This one also sports a praying mantis egg case, talk about winter interest. (To see baby mantids emerging from such a case, click here.)
This azalea is laden with lichen. About half of the little bush has died. Hard pruning was done in an effort to open up the center for better air circulation, but even with good rainfall, it is probably doomed. A pity, I love the look of the lichen, especially when the hot pink flowers are in bloom.
Soon that promise will be kept. In both shots, may we present Rhododendron ‘Crimson Tide’.
There are many other trees and shrubs with winter interest growing in the Fairegarden. In fact, we consider every single decidous woody plant to be interesting in the extreme, well every single growing thing is considered in that way, but these are the most colorful and interesting. Do consider the color and form of the twiggys when planting your four season garden.