It hasn't rained in the month that I have been volunteering in this courtyard at the Beltsville Library so that much of my time has been spent watering. Most of the rest has been spent removing large plants, transplanting, and planting; I had visualized a calmer more Zenlike experience. Methodically weeding from one end to the other, of course all small weeds, and strolling through with a hose, occasionally supplementing Natures bounteous rainfall and snipping the odd stray branch. No, the reality is lots more frantic and laborious. But it's still good. Rain will come someday. and I'm finished with big plants!
This week, with my son Pete's help (actually, I helped him), I removed an overgrown Japanese Holly from the back left corner. It was disfigured by a number of dead and dying branches, the result of the gradual spread of stem canker. This is purportedly a disease that is only an issue in stressed plants but it is so widespread I rarely use this plant anymore. Anyway, I replaced it with Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku', the Coral-barked Japanese Maple. The bright pink/coral branches will certainly be an accent in the winter and the chartreuse foliage is attractive in season. I have a native tree, Sapindus drummondii, to balance it on the side out of the picture! I find I am using more non-natives than I had hoped, but still planted Tiarella, Phlox, Sedum and Rudbeckia.
Next week I do want to add some Lady Ferns, Athyrium felix-femina, and red leafed Ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius 'Diablo'. The Lady Ferns will go under the Birch, not visible in this picture, I hope a nice textural addition. The Ninebarks will go between the path and the wall. They are vertical, more or less, and interesting; the leaf color, the exfoliating bark, the flowers, and the long lasting fruit. I'll dig some reblooming iris from home and put in a few varieties. As a series of individual plants they become become min-textural/architectural accents and the flowers...everybody loves. The garden gets better a little at a time.