The gardener's eye

The Gardener's Eye

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Trick or Treat?



We got over 18" of snow last night, the day before Halloween. The red oak, Quercus rubra, in lower garden glows like a jack-o-latern in the morning light. It appears that trees, even with large leaves, that generally retain their foliage are well-adpted to let snow glide of their leaves and reduce the risk of damage during early season snowfalls.


Fortunately, there has been little damage so far to the ornamental trees like Cercidiphyllum japonicum which have held onto their leaves. Today, this tree reminds of the cultivar Cercidiphyllum japonicum 'Pendula'. The bad news is that I didn't have time to finish planting all the bulbs which arrived this week from Brent and Becky's Bulbs. I have over 100 tulips yet to plant!

We live on a one of the few streets where the houses are close together in a small New England town. We are expecting 300 trick or treaters tomorrow. Could be a little scary.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sorbus alnifolia: Loaded with Fruit and Teeming with Birds

A glimpse of the trio of Sorbus alnifolia trees at PES

The Korean Mountain Ash Grove

Beautiful Fall Foliage and Loaded with Fruit

Close-up of the Fruit

Several years ago, Sue Copley, the former principal of Peterborough Elementary School (PES) asked me to help with landscaping the campus. Given that school was across the street from our house and the fact that my wife, Betsy, was a third grade teacher there, it was easy to say yes. It was also an opportunity to try a tree that I had always longed to have on my own garden but didn't have room for: Sorbus alnifolia, the Korean Mountain Ash.

Sorbus alnifolia originates from nothern Korea and is hardy to Zone 3. Its attributes include pretty white flowers in May, brilliant fall foliage and spectacular coral-red fruit. Michael Dirr states that it is "one of my favorite all around trees." In October, the trees are loaded with juicy fruit and the leaves are turning yellow to orange to a lovely golden brown. Probably the nicest attribute of the tree for a schoolyard is that it attracts flocks of birds. Other day when I took these photographs there were dozens of robins and cardinals devouring the abundant fruit.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bulbs for the Bridges

Three sizes of Pots for Three size Bulbs

Joan, Maggi and I pot up the Bulbs

Francie Digs the Trench

Joan and Francie Plant the Bulbs in the Trench for the Winter

Photo credit: Francie Von Mertens

Francie Von Mertens, founder of the Community Garden Project, and her crew have been making the boxes on the bridges in Peterborough beautiful each season for over a dozen years. The summer display is ending and the winter greens will be placed in the boxes by Thanksgiving. But now is the time to plan for next spring.

Bulbs can not survive the changes in temperature that would occur in a pot or a flower box over the winter. They must be fooled into thinking they are planted in the ground. The bulbs are planted in plastic pots and placed in a trench covered with a layer of soil and blanket of leaves for the winter. In April, the pots will be lifted and planted in the 8 flower boxes on the bridges in downtown Peterborough. It sounds like a lot of work, but the pleasure the displays bring in springtime is worth the effort.

The bulbs are not discarded after their bloom has faded. Every year the bulbs are recycled and planted in public places throughout Peterborough. They have found homes in parks, schools and along sidewalks in town. The bulbs are selected to perform well in both situations. This year we chose Narcissus 'Fortissimo', Narcissus 'Thalia' and Muscari armeniacum. Each are long-lived natuarlizers. N. 'Fortissimo' a 18''-20'' large cupped daffodil has an amber-yellow perianth and a reddish-orange cup. It is size and color that can be easily appreciated from a car driving over the bridge. N. 'Thalia' is a circa 1916 and is a elegant 16''-18'' Triandrus daffodil which has pendant white fragrant flowers. Of course no spring display should be without the lovely blue flowers of the grape hyacinth.

As the bulbs slumber throughout the long New Hampshire winter, the citizens of Peterborough anxiously await the harbinger of springtime: the exuberantly plated flower boxes on the bridges in Peterborough.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Only the Good Die Young

The Entrance Garden at Depot Park is full of Tender Plants



The Planter at the Pavilion at Depot Park is filled with annuals

The Planter at Putnam Park is also full of Annuals

The Succulents Safely Moved to the Garden Room

Trash cans and my gardening bag make good Frost Protectors


Salvia elegans 'Golden Delicious' is just about to flower. A blanket/tarp layer should keep it safe for the next two nights

There is frost warning in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow night. It is a bittersweet moment in the garden because it is blowsy and overflowing with annuals and tender perennials looking spectacular. This afternoon there was a mad rush to bring in the tender potted plants, cover a few in the garden and then hope for the best.

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