Clean slate

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The burning and cutting is done. Within a month, with warmer temperatures,  thousands of grasses and perennials will break the surface, and a textured plain of green will emerge.

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I’ve come to look forward to this time of year, waiting in suspense, spotting the early comers among the leaf litter and debris. The frogs and peepers are already singing at night.

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Natural mulch will shelter the plants as they emerge, adding another layer of organic matter to the heavy clay.

Rich clay, though, so this flat plain will spring to life in besotted splendor. In three month’s time, something like this–







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27 thoughts on “Clean slate

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Diana. Unfortunately, I decided that photo was off topic and removed it. The problem with those seats is that they are getting bluer and bluer. I got them to match the stone, but they are changing. You’re right that I should find another place to use them.

        1. They were made in China of unlabeled and unidentified materials, for all I know, toxic materials. I just don’t know. They held up very well through our winter weather, but the color is changing.

  1. The contrast between the open vista and Summer exuberance is beautiful – it must be such a profound experience watching the garden reappear each year.

    1. I do enjoy looking for the changes. Daffodils are just about to come into flower, and the Petasites appear to be about to put out their lanky flowering stalks. And there are frog eggs in the pond. Unfortunately, it’s possible we may have a late snow Sunday night!

  2. I love seeing the bare bones layout of your garden in these photos. It will help me better understand the pictures in the coming months. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that island of boxwoods before.

    1. I should have taken more photos, because there are more “bones.” I also used a wide angle lens, which distorts spatial relationships in strange, but interesting, ways.

    1. I definitely is satisfying. Now I’m anxious to plant my new Iris ‘Gerald Darby’ and Dianthus carthusianorum. The dianthus will have to go in dry ground near the house, but I hope is will grow as successfully as I saw last summer in England. I think every garden I saw used that plant.

      1. You’ll have to keep us informed of how long ‘Gerald Darby’ holds its new foliage color for you – it was gorgeous for 3-4 days when I grew it in Saint Louis, but then would green out instantly. Those few moments were incredible – but sadly easy to miss.

  3. I’m envious of the completely shorn-of-winter garden. Big winds from the west and south all week have kept me from cutting down the 20-year-old Miscanthus ‘Silberfeder’, a job I dislike even when conditions are perfect. Want a mind-controlled robotic buzz saw — that then chops the stalks into 3-ft pieces and carts them off to the compost…

    Thanks for giving us this early view, which does make it easier to orient oneself in the later-season vegetation.

    1. Each year I think it will be more work that it is. I have several Silberfeders, which I hope to gradually replace with Silberturm. A Dutch gardener told me it has a more upright form and is less prone to flopping over in late summer. But only half the plugs I bought two years ago remained last spring, and I don’t know if I’ll find any alive when the warm season grasses finally sprout.

      1. Here’s hoping your ‘Silberturm’s show up when the real warming begins! Dutch recommendations make sense for your site because you have so much moisture.

        ‘Silberfeder’ is bolt upright here, but think that the contrast in our sites might make all the difference. It’s in much drier soil (though still clay), and exposed to the full force of the prevailing wind — without any of the shelter your trees provide, and in absolute full sun, nothing taller anywhere near it. Every year the first heavy snow makes it double over, and I’m sure it’ll be a mess for the rest of the winter, but as soon as the weight is lifted it sproings back up as if nothing had happened.

        For the last few seasons I’ve been chopping away at the outer edges of the clumps at this time of year to limit their spread (pretty slow, considering how long ago ‘Silberfeder’ was planted, but inevitable), so that may also be helping to prevent flopping. Happy to have that removal behind me, so the only wintry presence clashing with the daffodils are some Panicums; their skinny stems and modest height make removal much less of an ordeal. Still, winds are back up to thirty, so I’m going to put off that job for another day.

    1. And I cut my alder hedge to the ground last autumn. I wait in hope this was a successful exercise in coppicing, and I’ll have bunches of new growth in two or three months.

      1. Where is the alder hedge? I’ve saved the image of the plan map your friend supplied for the excellent Garden Design Journal article, so you could specify in relation to the features noted there.

        1. The alder hedge is shown on the map behind the no. 10. There is a long stone wall bordering the gravel path there. However, after being convinced that alder would coppice well, I cut them all to the ground last fall, and I await the emergence of new alder shoots, which I think will make a more uniform and attractive hedge. Hoping it works.

  4. It’s wonderful seeing the bones of your garden, and the contrast between this clean sweep and the summer lushness is startling. I hope the Dianthus carthusianorum do well for you. This is my first year trying them after falling in love with them in a photo of the Dan Pearson border at the Old Refectory.

    1. I remember well Dan Pearson’s use of Dianthus carthusianorum at The Old Rectory, and that is the reason I’m trying them this year. However, I’ve planted them already and we’re expecting two or three freezing nights this week. I intend to cover them and hope for the best. Where did you see the photo of that border?

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