I need to go to the grocery store. Sitting in the gas guzzler that is parked in the garage, the passenger side mirror is checked to make sure there is adequate clearance to back out. This is the view in the mirror that I see as late October slides into November. The Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Wells Special’, the big green shrub on the right and the wildflower asters and goldenrod are on my property, the burning bushes and deciduous trees are across the street at my neighbor’s. It is an arresting sight. It causes me to pause for a minute to drink in the view before backing out. Every time.
Backed fully out, the button is pushed to close the garage door. The gearshifter is set to drive and as we move forward this is the next view we see. It’s a wonder I ever get to the grocery at this rate. The pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris is fading faire, but almost seems even more beautiful as it ages. Like people do. The golden haze of various Amsonia ssp. behind the grass sets the scene aglow when backlit by the autumn sunshine.
Onward! Turning slowly to pull out into the street, we turn our gaze westward to check for oncoming traffic. There are hardly ever any cars on our block, but the yellow button mums grab my attention and I brake and take a lingerling look at the bed under the tall pines at the edge of our property. Many hours of toiling during the summer have paid off in the shrubs and desirables now growing unimpeded by pesky vigorous vines and ground covers gone astray. It was worth the effort.
Finally we pull out into the street with no cars coming behind us. That allows us to move along at a crawl and look carefully at the center island from the streetside, the same area shown in the opening photo. Among the wildflowers are the yellowing twigs of Cornus sericea flaviramea and the red berries of Ilex verticillata ‘Berry Heavy’. In a month or so this bed will be cut down with the lawn mower and those large shrubs will enjoy the spotlight for the remainder of winter.
Moving on to the bed in front of the house, there are more winterberries. Soon the leaves will fall and the berries will show up better. Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’ is really more orange than gold. A story about the winterberries can be seen by clicking here.
We have featured photos of the eastern wahoo tree, Euonymus atropurpureus several times this fall already. Here it is in situ, with Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ and the neighbor’s large deciduous trees in full glory.
There is no lawn of mown grass here at all, only a little lawn/meadow at the side of the garage that is cut down once a year. Instead of grass that needs a weekly cutting, a mixture of trees, shrubs and wildflowers grows in front of the house and garage. A couple of years ago, Hosta ‘Royal Standard’ was spread from the various plants growing here and there to fill in the space between the shrubbery in front of the house. Blooming in early August with tall stalks of fragrant white flowers, the fading faire foliage is offering even more interest as it yellows. The frontage on all three sections of curbside plantings hold several rows of Liriope ssp. Let’s get a move on to the grocery. We can go see the back garden after we return.
The groceries are put away so let’s go out back. As we walk along the gravel path at the side of the garage to get to the real gardens, this is the view. Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ trained to a standard on a stout metal stake looks like a colorful midway ride, the type where feet dangle as the gondolas whirl.
The tall feather reed grass, Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ will stand with the other plantings until February in the Gravel Garden, for there are no bulbs planted there. The Gravel Garden will be left wild and wooly to better capture any frost or snow during the cold months. Where there are bulbs, the stems and stalks need to be cut down sooner so as not to decapitate newly emerging leaves and flower buds as has sadly happened in the past. They seem to pop up earlier each year anymore.
There are only a few flowers still in bloom, chief among them being the various Sheffie mums and the previously shown yellow button mum. It is the turning foliage that attracts the human eye if not the hungry pollinators buzzing all over the mums. Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Crimson Queen’, a story about her here, is holding court at the corner of the Daylily Hill.
Along the rising stairsteps of the block wall, the blue pots have been put into the protective custody of chickenwire cloches. The oblong blue pot is planted with another fifty Crocus chrysantha ‘Prins Claus’. I say another because last year we also planted fifty of those treasures and every last one was eaten by voles entering through the hole in the bottom of the pot since the pot was resting on cute pot feet. With much muttering involving evil thoughts towards voles, hardware cloth was cut to fit the bottom of the pot before this year’s crocus planting and the pot is setting flat on the concrete topper blocks. The chickenwire was added for good measure to keep the squirrels from mucking about the top. If this doesn’t result in a good show of crocus in early 2014, I might have to hang up my trowel and call it quits.
At the top of the slope, the main entrance to the Knot Garden has been blocked by the bowing pink muhly grass. There is another way to get in, around the side of the Shed Bed and up to the top terrace level. One of these days these majestic grasses will be cut down, but not yet. Not until they have lost all color and structure and collapse into soggy slovenly heaps, sometime at the beginning of the new year. That is a surprise, isn’t it, talking about the new year already. But that is the way of it. Onward indeed.