March is a time of transition here in the Fairegarden. Early bulbs bloom, like the sapphire Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ in the knot garden. The tips of the Spring Green tulips can be seen poking up to join the chorus.
While order reigns supreme in the geometrically designed knot garden, just a few feet away, on the other side of the silvery stems of the appalling chain link fence, (yes, I chose it for security and low cost and have spent more than ten years trying to hide it with various plantings), is the nightmare tangle of seedling trees and vines, some as thick as my arm. It is a constant battle to keep the wild out of the composed. There is cutting involved using many types of tools; saws, clippers, pruners, loppers. All that cutting results in much useable building material. Waste not, want not is how I was raised.
While gazing over the metal fence, formulating a plan of attacking the vines that otherwise would swallow the garden in one season’s gulp, these long catkins were spied. Hmmm, I don’t remember ever seeing those before. There was one clump of long straight stems sporting these tassels.
Is this some sort of hazel, Corylus, prized by English gardeners for making wattles, domes and trelliage? (Photo taken May, 2010 at Hampton Court Castle) To the computer, post haste! On better thought, to a recent issue of Gardens Ilustrated, that gold standard of gardening magazines. There was an article about coppicing shrubs, with a hazel example shown. Yes, long male catkins, just like these, identified the bush. Oh joy of joys. It is a wonder how hazel got into the mix of maples, privet and grapevine in southeast Tennessee. In the earliest garden creation days here, a Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick was planted in a large concrete container. It died within months and the carcass was tossed over the fence. Could the rootstock of the grafted bush have rooted and grown? A romantic notion, we’re going with it. Onward.
A couple of small wattle fences had been fashioned here from available materials to hold back flopping flowers. As intended, these fences need to be replaced after a year or two as they biodegrade. The newly cut hazel was put to use immediately, while still bendable. These nodding Narcissus pseudonarcissus don’t really need propping, but other plants growing behind, particularly the Gladiolus byzantinus do need help standing straight and tall for proper admiration later in the season.
The old fence posts were left in place, seen in front of the new fence which is taller to better hold the perennial glads up for photo ops. The glad spikes can be seen behind the daffs, a darker green.
Here is a warts and all long shot. The ever present chain link fence surrounds the upper part of the garden on three sides. Pyracantha will soon fill in to cover the eyesore with new fresh foliage and white flowers followed by orange berries that will persist into December when they are devoured by hungry birds.
Even wartier is this shot of the new heater at the side of the house with the newly woven fence thingey made of mulberry cuttings. Deschampsia cespitosa has been planted to help cover it and Siberian iris was dormant when this shot was taken, February 9, 2011 but will grow to help give some green cover. Probably there will need to be a rethinking of the planting here, but this is a spot never seen so it is not a high priority.
There have been several deaths in the arborvitae hedges in front and along the back property line during the last year. It is believed that drought conditions are to blame, both recent and from 2007-2008, the damage being cumulative. Two dead shrubs were pruned to the main branches and those were woven together at the tops, secured with wire. It is hoped that the live bushes on either side will fill in over time to close the gap in the hedge. Until then, annual vine seeds might be planted. Or not. Still some warts being shown here. This corner is a repository of brush, overrun with Vinca major. Large evergreens are planted there to form a privacy screen. Leftover cinder blocks are stacked to help contain the vinca. Inadequate but, whatever.
This small fence is still a work in progress, this photo is informing me. It is used to hold up a group of Asclepias tuberosa later during the summer months. All of the butterfly weed plants need help remaining upright here for some reason. They do not receive such help in the wild, unless it is the neighboring native grasses doing the heavy lifting for them. More grapevine will be gathered and woven in the lower portion to help give a more finished look. The stakes and some cross pieces are made of mulberry, the closest thing to hazel we could find until the catkins discovery.
The vines that surround us must be kept at bay with constant vigilence. A pink flowering dogwood was killed by the aggressive twisting tendrils last year while our guard was down. Whenever the vines are pulled with resulting long pieces, those are woven into rounds and stored in the shed for future uses. As was said before, waste not, want not.
To wind up this story, get it, we close with what looks to be miniature grape bunches. Actually these are clusters of lilac buds, Syringa vulgaris, opening way ahead of schedule. They are fragrant already. Time Marches on.