What happened and What’s going on

I am definitely paying my dues with gardening! A whole year of neglect can be devastating in terms of maintenace in a garden as big as mine.

brunnera 'hadspen cream' and helleborus x hybridus

brunnera ‘hadspen cream’ and helleborus x hybridus

Anyway I’ve been working very hard during this last month and I have had the time to get ‘in touch’ with the garden again.

Lately I’ve been pruning roses, trimming grasses and perennials, and tiding up in general almost everywhere. I also sprayed a preventative treatment of Bordeaux mixture on the roses so that they can have a fresh start without last year’s fungus and diseases still attached to the trunks and old leaves. I might give them another spray in full summer, when they’re more prone to blackspot… and crap like that. I have also sprayed the yuccas which had rusty spots on their old leaves. I also gave them a fresh haircut that made thier look turn from Cousin Itt (remember the Addam’s Family?) to exotic palms in California. I love the new style!

yuccas after haircut

yuccas after haircut

I have to say I am quite proud of my efforts, so far. Roses are full of fat buds and soon they will start blooming (they were already in prime time last year in this period, but I guess the season was a little early because of a very warm winter we had).

quince apple blooms

quince apple blooms

While taking care of my plants, I had the time to note what’s working… and what’s not, both in  design and specimen. It is about time to make things simpler: a tidy and healthy garden definitely looks better than a complicated design and sophisticated combinations that don’t work and are far higher maintenance.

malus 'red sentinel' on the crabapple bed

malus ‘red sentinel’ on the crabapple bed

The crabapple trees are all in full bloom now. The three malus ‘Red Sentinel’ had grown rather tall so I decided it was time to get rid of the lower branches to let some light in. Malus ‘Coccinella’ is very pretty, and although its colour does bother me a little bit sometimes, its arching behaviour is quite interesting.

malus 'coccinella'

malus ‘coccinella’

Malus ‘Evereste’ had been planted too close to a dark green phormium which had become huge over these last two years, all the same I like the combo – both when in flower and when bearing fruit on bare branches. I might get some more crabapple trees, although their flowering season is pretty short they are a beauty in winter too.

wisteria sin. 'texas purple', dark green phormium and malus 'evereste'

wisteria sin. ‘texas purple’, dark green phormium and malus ‘evereste’

I realised I need more shrubs in the woodland, and particularly under the cherry trees. The wild cherry tree’s been flowering for a week now and it’s such a beauty; the other one, the one producing actual cherries, will be blooming right afterwards.

under the cherry tree

under the cherry tree

There are shrubs doing rather well in the garden: eleagnus umbellata (autumn olive tree) is such a fast grower, and it look pretty good in bloom too. I have just found out that its berries are edible too, I shall try.

eleagnus umbellata - autumn olive tree

eleagnus umbellata – autumn olive tree

On the other hand elders are not really making a move; this is pretty disappointing since they grow wild everywhere around here. I didn’t expect viburnums to behave so well in my garden but they do indeed, except for an evergreen veriety called ‘Chesapeake’ which I reckon had passed out during this last winter. Never mind, I saw a terrible program on TV where this man travels around America to find out disgusting things to eat. He was at Chesapeake and there he ate a living blue crab and a deliciously cooked muskrat (yes, I said muskrat!). He had grilled raccoon the other day! I stopped watching the program (and liking the place…).

viburnum opulus 'snowball'

viburnum opulus ‘snowball’

Bearded irises seems to have found their proper place in my garden; they grow and bloom and I love their leaves. This is a particularly fine scented one that started flowering yesterday. Rhyzomes came as a gift a couple of years ago, although during the first season it just grew and didn’t flower. Today, the warm air smells wonderful outside: all the fruit trees and the irises make it smell like confetti.

bearded iris

bearded iris

Also this last month I have been pretty busy educating a little sweet monster that arrived…

sorry i couldn't get a steady shot of her!

sorry i couldn’t get a steady shot of her!

Say hello to Gaga (although not so “Lady”…), a wire-haired dachshund that will hopefully help me conquer the moles…


28 thoughts on “What happened and What’s going on

  1. The yuccas look great…they do remind me of the Pygmy Date Palms that you see in California! The spring blossoms are looking wonderful. Hopefully your new best friend won’t dig holes in the garden!

    • Pygmy Date Palms, that’s exactly what I meant in my head! (though I had to google it now…). My new best friend is only digging where moles already did, do it’s not a big deal… for now…

  2. Maybe I can borrow Gaga for the moles here! Love all the blossom in your garden; I agree about simplicity, I am removing any plants that don’t perform consistently over a long period or at least when they have finished (like the tulips that disappear). Large swathes that give impact is now what I’m aiming at. Your woodland plants look lovely, I didn’t remember that you had woodland in the garden too.

    • I don’t show many pictures of the woodland because it’s not very showy, honestly. All the trees and shrubs are even too young to call that place a woodland, but you know, you start with names and then, maybe…

  3. Good report and sounds like progress in all directions. Fine photos. Keep up the good work. Gaga is a MUST in most gardens. My mole catcher is a bit too old now, just like her owner!

    • Dear lads of Lazio, anyone’s never too old to chase toads though, right? 🙂
      Can’t wait to see the roses in bloom, soon they all will be at their best! First roses opened this morning on Scabrosa and Bansiae Purezza.

  4. Hi Alberto,

    You really have been busy; most impressive. I wish I had your determination to get things done. Now if only I could have a lawn that I don’t have to mow…

    I’m loving your little crab apples and would really like some of my own. I’ve always planned to get some red sentinel, now I just need enough room.

    Very nice to meet Gaga – again something else I’ve wanted for a while. A Dachshund.

    • I was noticing earlier that red sentinel is the most scented indeed and it grows rather fast, despite star magnolias!!! 😉
      Gaga is pretty terrible, a real hunter! Or maybe I just wasn’t used of puppies anymore, my two Jack Russell started to become a little old and I liked it!

  5. Your garden is looking lovely and it’s lovely to see the blossom out and the iris in flower. I know exactly what you mean with puppies and gardens! I’m sure our tulips won’t survive Tavi tearing around the garden! Sarah x

    • Hi Sarah! Actually my two terriers never dug up anything in my gardens they are very respectful of the plants and such. Gaga I don’t know yet but su far she’s been only chasing moles and occasionally some butterfly. Tulips here die because of the heavy clay most often…

  6. Hi Gaga! ‘Red Sentinel’ is a popular crab around here. and crabapples are a great small tree in general. The flowering season is short, true, but the fruit can also be quite ornamental.

  7. I love your cute little monster! I appreciate what you said about creating a simpler design that is tidy and healthy. How true! By the way, I think my husband watches that show about the guy who goes around eating weird things. He is the cook in our house, and I am glad he has not been inspired to try some of the stuff he has seen on that show.

  8. I hadn’t realised that you had so many trees Alberto, you have certainly been very busy. Your crab apples are so beautiful I love all the blossom! I agree definitely about simplifying and having drifts of flowers that are happy, it makes such a difference!

    • All the trees I have are still rather young and the ones I’ve planted alertly grown had a very tough period after that, I had to chop off the top of two oaks because they were dead…

  9. Having a simpler design just makes life….simpler. A spot that requires a ton of work to maintain sometimes takes the joy out of gardening. It begins to feel to much like work. Love your new dog! What a cutie!

    • She is terrific, a real hunter though! She brought a giant hedgehog on the sofa the other evening… Fortunately it was safe and sound and I just had to bring it back to the garden…

  10. Springtime in the garden, and a new puppy too–what could be better? Really every gardener needs a dog who discourages moles, although I was so relieved that the hedgehog was unharmed. Wish we had hedgehogs.

    Clearly your garden is responding to all the love you are giving it Alberto. The trees in blossom are beautiful. But you confused me with the reference to the scent of confetti. (I know you will explain.)

    Max the Westie sends cheeriest tail wags to Gaga.

    • OMG! (and my face is like The Scream by Munch) I guess you have never had a proper confetti in america (since another american friends of mine made me notice that confetti have no scent) – and at this point I imagine the others just didn’t ask. Anyway try to imagine the scent of sugar candy and almonds but very subtle, that is the scent of confetti.
      I am a little disappointed that you didn’t notice the title of this post is the same of a ‘Walking Dead’ episode… You are getting soft with all those grandchildren around… Please go back to writing your blog sometimes!

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