Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Into June

Rain finally! Lots of it.

As we round the path into June, dragging spring drought and winter damage behind us, summer is opening up in front of us with much to notice.

First of all, even as June arrives, I am still toting up what winter did here. The redbud (Cercis canadensis) 'Forest Pansy' struggles. This is not the look I want in the center of the garden.
Lots of dieback, few leaves, late emergence. . . .

It barely bloomed, but did put out some pink flowers very late. It did not leaf out at all for ages, then finally tentatively opened some leaves last week but left many branches bare.

Like my Stewartias, redbuds are just not reliably winter hardy here at all. This is my third attempt. A 'Silver Cloud' redbud never made it through even one winter. A small 'Forest Pansy' was simply decapitated one winter, with its top lying on the ground a few feet away. I replaced it with this nice sized 'Forest Pansy' but for two winters in a row this one has struggled.

Does it make sense to keep it? It's potentially beautiful, but not when it looks so scraggly each year.
I dunno. Could you live with this?
Potential for a beautiful tree is there, maybe it will outgrow its winter wimpiness in time?

This past winter was also the first time my Rose of Sharon got zapped. It is one of the latest to leaf out, so just now as June arrives, I can see all the dead twigs at the top. It lives, but is filling out only on its lower branches, leaving a lot of dieback at the top.

The red buckeye, Aesculus pavia, put out one, and only one, bloom this year. Winter zapped all the rest of the buds, just as it did with the flowering dogwood, which had no flowers this year at all.
The lone buckeye flower spike

This buckeye is young, but had been a heavy bloomer even at a young age in past years. I was really looking forward to seeing it covered in red firecrackers to match my new red chairs, but winter got to this tree along with so many others.

Even without blooms though, the little red buckeye is looking okay, all leafed out and growing nicely.
It's little, but it's leafy. Wouldn't that twiggy sapling have looked great dressed in red explosions,
right in front of the red chairs? Yeah, I thought so too.

I am so done with looking at the havoc of last winter in my garden. It's June already. There are summery sights to see, and I am going to go look.

Kintzley's Ghost honeysuckle (Lonicera reticulata)
Later the round bracts turn ghostly silver.

Dwarf deutzia 'Nikko' is stunning, and a workhorse, covering ground, blooming beautifully.
I have it all along the west walk, and planted a big swath along the east side of the house too.

The Birch garden has issues --
I had to lop off much of the sweetspire shrubs (itea virginica) in the center of this garden because of winter dieback.
But "May Night' salvia, 'Blaze' peony and the bright 'Orange Dream' Japanese maple look wonderful!

Amsonias this year were the best I've seen them. The dry spring was to their liking.
Usually they bloom briefly and look washed out.
This year they flowered for a long time, and kept their delicate blue hue.

The amsonias above are A. tabernaemontana and A. hubrichtii, two varieties of bluestar. A low growing cultivar called 'Blue Ice' flowers a week or two later. It's just blooming as June arrives, and has purple, rather than pale blue flowers.

I am absurdly happy with how 'Blue Ice' amsonias flank a yellow creeping sedum called 'Weihenstephaner's Gold'. I like how their shapes and colors go together.

Unfortunately the amsonia and sedum are directly below the struggling redbud, but if I try hard I can ignore the redbud and just see the parts that make me happy.

After all my complaining about winterkill and dieback and trees that are stunted and shrubs that wintered poorly, I have to say some things came through fine. The red maples, the conifers, the river birches and many others shrugged at arctic conditions.

Surprisingly, American holly, Ilex opaca, which is at the very northern fringe of its range here and which is subject to winterburn, came through with absolutely no unsightly leaf issues and not a bit of damage. Really. I did not see that coming, and had prepared for heartbreak this spring, but it looks great.
Ameircan holly - Ilex opaca - showing no damage after this winter.
The big silver maple behind it in the distance didn't make it, though.

The holly has the normal yellowing of last year's leaves that are dropping off now as new growth emerges, but not a bit of browning or desiccation. It's rangy, still in its adolescent shape, but if this holly continues to survive our winters as it has so far, it will be a lovely big shapely tree.

And here's another one that sailed through winter, looking better this year than ever: the paperbark maple.

As we move into June, I am making a pact with myself to stop looking at winter damage. Spring is going by, losses have been noted, pruning surgeries have been conducted, and some damage is just going to have to be tolerated. Okay?


  1. Your garden looks amazing! Seriously! That seating area has come so far and is so lush and layered!!! My goodness! And like you my redbud is just eh....not doing much and looks a lot like yours...we shall see. Wishing you a wonderful week in the garden! Nicole xo

    1. Sad to hear your redbud is also struggling a bit -- such a pretty tree and such a bother to grow!