[This piece was originally written about five years ago, and has languished since in my DRAFT file. I am posting it today because I don’t want to lose it into cyberspace. This is the same garden, I call it the “tree garden” now, because the young trees mentioned herein are now maybe a 70 feet tall. The garden itself is about 15 years old now, having been previously a cabbage patch and apple orchard.]
The garden is about 80 feet long and half as wide. At first it was a patch of former farm land, on which grew plenty of cabbage and cauliflower for many years, and occasional specialty crops such as broom corn, tobacco, or cotton. Well, yes, cotton doesn’t really grow in Ohio…at least it doesn’t make a very impressive boll. Tobacco wasn’t exactly prolific either. But this never stopped my late husband, who would always have a go at growing any legal crop.
But this blog entry is not about farming and crops. It’s about a patch of ground which has grown into a wonderful garden. At least I think so. Most of the foliage plants and trees are volunteers–meaning they weren’t planted, but just appeared on their own. There are maple trees which originated in a pot, from a seed that landed in a flower pot and grew unattended and unnoticed, and maples which just appeared…like Topsy. There are other trees, growing from seed, I’ll try to find out their names.
Yes, there are some plants that came from a nursery: a bright red-berried Winterberry, and her counterpart the male Winterberry, Gentleman Jim. Not sure that’s the proper name, but it fits. There are two Hawthornes, one of which became ill and threatened to die, but it came back as green and lovely as ever. Bittersweet, a plant I wanted because it was a favorite of my grandmother. Assorted grasses. A huge shrub-tree called a ——- and red flowers which have blade-like leaves. A breathtaking yellow lily, which is spectacular when the rabbits or deer don’t eat it. Rhododendrons, a deep rose color, bloom profusely, and are also a favorite munchy for the deer in winter. Heather. Two red rose bushes. Six Boxwoods. Assorted other flowers.
Ten years ago I personally dug out raised beds, by digging out trenches or paths between the raised areas. One of the paths is made of triangle shaped pieces of wood cut from the stairs when the house was built.
And of course the oregano…planted by husband twenty years ago, which has spread magnificently. The slender spiky purple blossoms smell delicious, adding their color to the summer garden.
In spring some purple hogswort grows near a clumb of ::) in at one end of the path.
A variety of grasses have spread throughout the garden: Japanese blood grass with its red trimmed leaves, the tall waving Plume Grass, the striped Zebra grass, all lend their special charm.
An Oak tree that began life in a flower bed next door, now adorns a front corner of the garden. A friend and I dug that tree out of its original location, which was not nearly as easy as it sounds, ten years ago. This once struggling sapling–excuse the clichés please–is well on its way to becoming a Mighty Oak. Another Oak, a volunteer which remained after pruning of the garden to form paths and island beds, started in a thicket of grass, weeds, and tiny seedlings which were culled to rescue an Oak and a Maple. Both are now fifteen feet tall.
Last year in sorting through a large border area, a big Spirea shrub with rose colored blossoms had almost disappeared it had been so encroached upon by maple saplings before we resurrected it by cutting away some of the excess trees. Those that remain are becoming stronger and taller. Taking out trees selectively works for me, usually the smaller or thinner trees, a decision sometimes hard to make. The pesky rose prickers are cut out among the trees that line paths which branch off into new areas, becoming secluded side areas. Paths formed early on with the push mower.
The project has been very rewarding for more than a decade. For the first few years only the youngest children recognized the paths and foliage areas, and loved to balance on the rather rickety triangle-wood walk.
Not as welcome, but beautiful in their own way, are the Multiflora Roses planted seven decades ago along the hedgerows of the farm. Vicious prickers attack those who try to tame them. They like the garden as well as the tiniest spring flowers, and lend their brand of wild beauty.
On its way, theoretically, to becoming a Fairy Garden, a child size bench and a chair painted a light green, with multicolor polka dots, are nestled amont the paths. An abandoned bird cage found a home among the branches, and shines when the sun is slanted in the right position. Yet to come, if all turns out as planned, are some colorful little “road” signs, some gourd bird-houses, some sparkly things to attract attention.
There are both cardinals and bluejays, among all kinds of birds. They argue noisely over air rights and landing branches. Rabbits and groundhogs make homes in the garden. The deer wander through nibbling here and there in winter.
What is that saying about a garden?
…… to be continued.