I spent a good deal of time over the holidays mulling over some blogging concepts for the new year. Continually returning to the forefront of my thoughts was the idea of telling my garden’s story throughout the entire year. The challenge was to find a common thread that might run through a year in the garden.
It made sense that if every good story had interesting and dynamic characters, I’d need to choose a few characters that would carry the narrative through all four seasons — from the dead of winter, through the rebirth of spring, the heat and abundance of summer, the waning solace of autumn, and then a final return to dormancy.
I’ve chosen three plants — one tree, one shrub and one herbaceous perennial. Each week, I will photograph and write about them, focusing on the dominant or emerging characteristics of each with a particular interest in how they interact with the rest of the garden. It is my hope that through my words and photos and these three characters, I will be able to bring others from far way in to my garden and convey its true character.
So without further adieu, I introduce the main characters of 52 Weeks in the Garden.
Tree: Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud)
|Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud) bark|
The Eastern Redbud in my garden is a solitary character, gracing the northern end of our back fence border. It was a very young tree when we purchased the property in 2000, and currently stands 12-15 feet tall. In winter, its ruddy, flaking bark provides rich contrast to snow cover as well as the dormant landscape.
Shrub: Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blushing Bride’
|Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Blushing Bride’ dried inflorescence|
‘Blushing Bride’ — a recent introduction in the Endless Summer® series — is one of the five new Hydrangea cultivars I added to the gardens in 2010. One specimen is planted beneath the crabapple (Malus sp.) along the driveway, and the other grows near the common lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) and beneath the Litteleaf Linden (Tilia americana) in the back garage border. I purchased these two purely on the spectacular nature of the fall foliage and eagerly await their spring and summer show. In this first week of the year, it is decorated here and there with a dried inflorescence, buds tightly closed.
Herbaceous Perennial: Hylotelephium ‘Matrona’
|Hylotelephium ‘Matrona’ seed head|
I went back and forth over the selection for herbaceous perennials, almost choosing the Rudbeckia that weaves in and out of most all our gardens. But in the end, I felt the Hylotelephium ‘Matrona’ (commonly classified as a Sedum) offered more of an interesting story throughout the year. In the winter, it’s at its prettiest when holding a dusting of snow on upright, sturdy stems and rust-colored seed heads.
Next week, I’ll begin to share more about each of these three plants, their development, and my experiences with them in my garden. I hope you’ll join in this journey of 52 Weeks in the Garden. If you’re growing these plants or others like them, please feel free to leave a comment and share your stories as well.