Yes you MAY

While Rod and Ed prepared the new crevice beds, I designed the plantings. This southern exposure should give me the necessary sun to grow western favorites as well as Turkish gems. Well, actually, this should allow me to get creative with a whole new index of plants requiring a different climate. Microclimates are a great benefit of the stone crevices. And I intend to push.
My first orders of acantholimons, genistas, daphne and cactus were swallowed up by the overall view as they were planted. Amazing how many little plants it takes to fill a crevice. You do get to plant the sides, the top, and sometimes even the underneath the stone. I am holding onto one special little overhang to try a mass planting of something special when it comes my way. By the first week of May, I moved in a little over 400 plants. Whew!

Meantime, Rod and I spent the month, during every spare waking moment, finishing the base area. Yes, he was so good- moving two huge rocks out from the wall after he thought he was finished. (Oh how they look so much better!) The scenario would run like this - upon arrival home from work, we would look for the right rock, dig out a place for it, and plant the rock firmly. By the end of May the base was ready for groundcovers. So I moved in the usual suspects - antennarias (diminutive as well as large), paronychias, cymbalaria, dianthus, arenaria, eriogonums, get the picture. I am dreaming of adding cuties not usually hardy, like delosperma. There are so many species now to try. Maybe I can finally grow what grows in Denver?
The old garden continued with its progression of unfurling, ignoring us as we worked. This year was a spectacular performance. The Phlox divaricata with Primula veris and Cypripedium parviflorum group put on a color carpet show to rival Aladdin's. The paeonies were amazing, from the earliest P. intermedia and P. tenuifolia, through P. anomala and the tree paeonies, and including P. handel-mazzettii. And the daphnes...well, as well.
This week's plant show of merit goes to the ramondas - R. myconi and R. nathaliae. The group has been blooming for two weeks now, commencing just as Haberlea rhodopensis started to pass. Even during the strenuous fluctuations in weather, from frost to a hot July day, it snailed its way to glory. I originally grew this hardy African violet relative from seed, back in the '90s. (Not difficult from seed, try your hand and order some from the next NARGS Seedex.) And of course, people would offer me forms, since I was growing the one. And when the one got too fat, I split it to fill crevices. A most satisfactory plant.

 But wait, there are others singing their songs. Nearby penstemons twinkle smiles as I pass...

The Early May Magnolia


A few days before the beginning of May, Magnolia x "Elizabeth" began opening flowers, lighting candles of creamy bloom. A beacon of delight, it caught one's eye, regardless of the driver's intent to stick to the rules of the road.  On Saturday, May 1st, choosing to hear an excellent lecture program at BNARGS from the AGS's own Cliff Booker, I strayed from its command performance. In the unseasonable heat of that day (July weather for sure) it puffed its remaining buds and sighed them open. What a spectacular sight when I returned home later that day. I thought it could not last, but a cold front blew in from the north, and extended the performance. Why yes, that cold front did also bring hard frost. The tops of the Japanese maples are still crowned with brownout. But the magnolia held its own.

I first saw this splendid tree in the garden of (the late) plant guru Dick Redfield. He sited it against a house wall to provide a little extra hardiness. Probably about 20 feet in stature at the time, it had an upright habit. Dick smiled when I noticed it and added it had come from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Magnolia acuminata was crossed with a species from Yulan, M. denudata. The Chinese species has been cultivated near Buddhist temples for over a thousand years. My heart was captured.

Do you know Dick Jayne's excellent nursery, Broken Arrow, in nearby Hamden CT? It is not a far jaunt down Route 63 from Litchfield county and well worth the travel for the delights that can be discovered there. About six years ago (plus) we visited and acquired a nice bushy little specimen of this magnolia. Back home, we sited our little treasure in front of the stone wall. Hopefully all that nearby biomass would protect it from the late frosts. And so far, though warm winters are increasing, the wall has provided sanctuary. It is now about fifteen feet with a spread of ten.

This magnolia ends the season for the front road display that Magnolia stellata began almost a month and a half earlier. Each blossom is precious to me, and I am tempted to bring inside for a closer look. Though the tree soldiers on with a blossom here and there after the leaves emerge, and even into June, the show winds down early May, but long enough to highlight the nearby Daphne genkwa..

So ok, we are living a warm spell now. Who knows how long before we revert back to the frigid dips of the 1990's. What a great opportunity to experience this magnificent tree. Maybe by the time we do get a real winter again, this tree will be established enough for a real zone 4 Goshen winter.