If your goal is to see a colorful garden post in real time out of Wisconsin, it's just not going to happen. We were provided a wonderful three days of near record warmth however, allowing us to complete many of the pre-winter chores in comfort.
As you can see in these first photos, I was able to finish the dry stane dyke (fieldstone wall) and I am considerably stronger physically for having done it.
The morning before Thanksgiving brought a semblance of warmth and a goodly amount of fog... a good opportunity to take photos of the gardens one last time before snow comes our way. In the next photo you can see where the new garden path will go in the recently planted azalea walk. I'll pick up the 2nd (and last load) of antique stone pavers Saturday morning and they'll go into storage for the next few months.
This week also brought the delivery of my martagon lilies from England. They were thirty bulbs in number, all of which were of amazingly excellent quality and consistent good size. I planted them in groups of five of the same cultivar in good draining soil amended with several year old horse manure. I added a heavy layer of pine needle mulch and rabbit fencing. It will be interesting to see if they come up the first year as that isn't always the case. I'm told martagons are a long term investment as clumps can live a hundred years but are not quick to start as it were. I do so look forward to their presence in the slightly shaded positions I gave them.
I was so impressed with the quality of the bulbs I received that I immediately placed another order for spring as follows:
The following Orienpets(trumpet/oriental crosses):
The Torch/Silk Road (which I already have and love)/Mussasi/Lesotho/Julie Fowlis/Big Brother/BlueberryCrush/Forbidden/Ice Cube
I have never seen these cultivars offered in the United States... some have blooms to 30cm wide and heights to 3 meters... if my eduacation serves me correctly, that's blossoms to just under 12" in width, and heights to just under 10 feet... these will take careful placement as I don't care for the lily forest look particularly, preferring them as accent groupings where possible.
I also ordered asiatics including:
Eurydike/Jessica/Loraine/Pink Flavour/Purple Heart/Rosella's Dream/Sonia/Spring Pink
The majority of these are the 'Turks's Cap' candlelabra forms which I prefer in asiatics.
Finally, I ordered several LO's including:
Last but not least, I ordered some Nepalense in the cultivar called African Lady.
This comes to a total of 110 bulbs on top of the hundreds already in the gardens... my one deeply held desire... red lily beetle... stay in New England.... please!!!
Another project completed in past couple of days is the fence on the north of west side of the gardens. The spruce and austrian pine windbreak was getting thin so we limbed them up and built a very low tech fence to slow the wind from the northwest down.
In all, the fence spans 150 or more feet including the section I had done earlier on the west side of the property.The fence consists of treated 4x4's for posts, a few bags of concrete mix, some 2x4's, and the salvage from the milling of swamp cedar logs into planks. In order to retain the cedar bark on this waste product, I used deck screws and large fender washers for attaching to the fence frame. The rustic look works perfectly for us in this part of the gardens and serves as a tenable windbreak.
In the photo below I recycled some old sections of stockade fence into a gate wide enough to allow my brother-in-law's backhoe admittance to the gardens if necessary. My compost, aged manure, and mulch piles are all on the back side of this fence out of garden view on my neighbor's land... I do appreciate being allowed to use their land for these utility areas. I need to get rid of these leftover pieces of cedar... they make great bonfires on a cold evening, burning fast and hot as they are very dry. The piles of antique pavers will spend the winter here as well. The other advantage of this newly found area under the conifers is a vast supply of spruce and pine needles 8-10" deep that make wonderful mulch where needed and a great soil amendment for my acid loving plants.
With the addition of this new entrance to the gardens, I was able to close off the entrance I had been using on the east side of the barn. This means that the birch walk and the shade gardens along it are extremely well protected from the north winds, including several Japanese Maples and evergreen azaleas which aren't especially hardy here.
I have completed the needed protective mulching throughout the gardens and wire hoops are installed for the addition of burlap once the ground is frozen. Yes, that's a hose near the rhododendrons... I actually watered non-stop for several days amongst the various evergreens and conifers in the gardens in an effort to help them get through the winter more easily....
I really enjoy anticipating the spring magnolia bloom once the foliage has all dropped and the presence of bud count becomes obvious... there is the promise of a spectacular season if the temperatures cooperate...
The gazebo is enclosed for the winter with the addition of storm windows I made a few years ago...
I will close with a few more foggy morning garden shots... I have come to enjoy the earth tones of late autumn and there really isn't a better time to evaluate the bones of the garden.
Take care, Larry