Given a choice, I probably would prefer May to February... however, no one's made the offer so why not enjoy the 'now' as best I can? I'm not a big fan of cold damp weather so I took it upon myself to install as many large windows into this old cheese factory as possible and I really do enjoy the views on those miserably cold days that come our way, even if it does make furniture arranging a bit more difficult. So for today, I can wait for the tree peony pictured above to bloom again... in the meantime, there has been a lot of beautiful winter of which to partake.
This is Malus sargentii pictured in winter above and below, and then in spring (from a different perspective) as well. The winter photos really point out the importance of some creative pruning when it comes to flowering crabs and as I've said in the past, trees with sargentii in their background are excellent choices for disease resistance as well. Formally considered a variety of the species sieboldii, sargent's crab is now considered a species of the genus Malus and is native to Japan. There is no reason why an appropriately chosen flowering crab can't be a four season plant if one is willing to do proper research to find the right tree and provide proper pruning.
This group of four photos are of a Malus variety called Firebird that has sargentii in its background... a bit different form, compact and more rounded than the species, but with the same excellent disease resistance... this one holds its fruit very well through the winter. Selected right here in Wisconsin by Michael Yanny, this cultivar is much better at consistent blooming every year when compared with some other sargentii varieties. Cultivars from sargentii are also later blooming than many crab apples, thus extending the season.
Have you ever seen a mature Sequoiadendron giganteum 'Pendulum'? If not, google it, or better yet go to the conifer section on the Iseli Nursery site. Now this is one "rad" plant that I would love to own, but it's out of the question for me as it's only zone 7 hardy. The reason I bring it up here is that I was very upset about the condition of my mature arborvitaes after all the storm damage from snow weight and ice concerns. Then, suddenly it dawned on me... they look really "sick" ( I believe that's a term that means awesome as well as some less complementary things). I mean, I would pay money for conifers that look like this (see photo above)!! In fact I do... all the time... see the Cupressus nootkatensis pictured below for example. I absolutely love weepers... I hope the arborvitaes stay this way permanently... in fact, maybe I should go out and tie them to the ground in this position... if I could get a post through the frost that is... hey, I'm really serious though.... I truly am excited about their new form although I'll be surprised if it lasts.
This is either an example of hoarfrost or the worst case of mealy bugs/aphids combined that I've ever seen! Speaking of hoarfrost, it's apparently no longer politically correct to use this term and I got just a bit of static for using it in the last post. I'm told the more appropriate term would be "freezing fog"... now I ask you, just who's feelings are they trying to protect anyway?
Here's a reminder of how work was progressing in the late fall...
You really can't beat oaks that hold their foliage for adding winter interest and texture, not to mention color. I've added fastigiate English oaks in abundance over the years (Quercus robur). Sometimes they've had problems with damage or die back and I simply cut them off at ground level and they easily come again for me. The other oak that holds it foliage very well for us and has especially gorgeous fall foliage is Quercus coccinea, or scarlet oak. I've included a couple of photos below. We also grow and enjoy burr oaks (Quercus macrocarpa), the bark of which we find intensely interesting and I also have an Emperor Oak (Quercus dentata) with wonderful huge leaves that hold on well into winter. It has been quite slow growing for me but is doing well. It lies within the path of the siberian elms we're having removed this spring and I am hoping that it doesn't get damaged in the process.
|Quercus dentata in fall|
|The bark of Quercus macrocarpa with Quercus cocinnea fall foliage behind|
I'll close with a few more photos from our beautiful foggy and frosty weekend...
|Picea abies 'Mucronata' is a beautifully behaved and slow growing specimen in my garden... I doubt that they would ever outgrow their space... excellent plant|
|Another Malus with a sargentii background is Tina... I prefer to grow this as a mound (it's a low graft) and every few years I give it a haircut... see it below also...|
|The longer I have this Amelanchier canadensis, the more I appreciate it! It does tend to get leave scab in some years however, but when it doesn't, the fall color is spectacular as seen below...|
I generally don't tell stories on myself, but seeing the Hughes Juniper in the picture above loaded heavily with snow (quite a bit of major breakage as well), I am reminded of when I had my rotator cuff surgery a year and a half ago. I begged the surgeon to allow me to mow my lawns with my John Deere tractor... he said no way time and time again... reason being "you might fall off the tractor". I also implored my therapist with the same response.... I begged my GP with no luck at all... in all cases I kept saying "I've been riding a lawn tractor for 40 years and have never fallen off... this is ridiculous". Finally I couldn't stand it any longer... against all advice I put on my sweat shirt and fired up the tractor... as I drove under this juniper, bent as low as I could get, my sweatshirt caught on a large branch and literally pulled me half way off the tractor, before I could get the machine to stop. I literally was stuck hanging off the seat with one foot wedged in a position that I couldn't get out of, trying to use my left arm to pull my weight back on the tractor and unable to do so while trying to keep the tractor from taking off beneath me with my five procedure shoulder repair hanging out in mid-air. It literally took ten minutes to get myself out of this position. It took a full year before I was able to admit this to my wife.... I ask you... was this an example of Murphy's Law? As my father often said to me... "Did you learn anything?!"
|The redder fall foliage in this photo is from the Amelanchier canadensis|
Perhaps now you see why I'm not thinking all that much about spring!
Take care, Larry