Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The New Crabapple Garden

June 2, 2014
Today we shall talk about a new garden on the land. This one I call the 'Crabapple Garden'.
March 10, 2014

I have been pretty busy with the house build. This week they are working on the framing. It is progressing with a few ups and downs. The gardens are about the same and since my main passion is gardening, I will share some new gardens with you all and the process of installing them. It seems things for me on this blog have changed more from gardening to chores. It has been quite a chore to move my garden but ever so worth it. I get to design, develop, plant, and bring my vision to life on a completely blank slate! That is a dream in and of itself. Funny thing, my tastes are pretty much the same and I am going about things kind just like I have in my old garden; with one big exception-I have tons of plants to choose from and I find I am massing them in larger masses. Today's post in on before and afters of a new garden and I hope to talk you through my design process.

The new garden is one I have dubbed the 'Crabapple Garden'. Of course I had a 'Crabapple Garden' in my old garden so I also had to have one here. Most all of my gardens are anchored by a tree or shrub. This anchor plant gives the garden structure--and shade! I try to choose nice trees for those focal points of new gardens. These trees will be specimen trees that have some great interest. I love crabapples for their year round beauty and interest to wildlife. I do not like that crabapples sucker at times and they can be prone to fireblight and other diseases, but I can overlook that for all of  the good attributes of crabapples. If you are very savvy, you can buy crabapple plants that are resistant to diseases. The one I purchased is supposed to be resistant to common crabapple diseases. As a bonus, I have read that crabapples can be good pollinators for apple trees (both are in the genus Malus, but crabapples are differentiated from apples by the size of the fruit). My fruit orchard is not too far from this little garden. I am first and foremost a shrub and tree lover so it makes sense I include them in my new gardens. Trees are especially important to me because this field where our home is being built has none! We need shade and quickly. While I can't completely fill in the area with trees while the house is being built, I can selectively place some gardens on the property. The Crabapple Garden is a feature garden on the north side of my driveway. To select its location I simply walked to the center spot of the this long section of the driveway, and measured out a large circle. I started this particular garden like I do most all of my gardens-with one only a tree. There will be two other circular gardens in this area also anchored by trees, but since the Crabapple Garden is central, it will be the show garden. I fervently believe that when you start a garden you must start with trees and shrubs first. This is because trees and shrubs take the longest to grow in and make a statement. I planted the 'Callaway' crabapple first then came back later and dug out the sod and turned the soil in preparation for perennials. You can see that stage in progress in the first photo.
March 10, 2014

The first thing I planted in the garden after the crabapple was about 100 Lycoris squamigera, aka Naked or Pink Lady bulbs. These happened to be in the green when I started this garden and I thought they would be a good edger for this garden. Normally I would plant the Naked Ladies in a bit of shade but I think they will be okay in this rather exposed location. Time will tell. Eventually the crabapple will provide some shade but for now the bulbs will be on their own. I hope they all bloom this summer but I honestly don't expect them too. I double planted these bulbs and think they will make a show when in bloom and in early spring. Because these bulbs go dormant in late spring there will be a period of ratty looking foliage. That is okay for my sensibilities but some other gardeners might not like the ratty looking stage so that should be considered. I have planned to cover this foliage and the subsequent bare spots by planting Allium senescens var. Glaucum as an edger on top of the Naked Lady bulbs. The foliage of the alliums will stay short and will slowly spread. As a bonus these alliums will be in bloom the same time as the Naked Ladies, and the colors will look good together. I am not particularly fond of alliums but this one has to be my favorite. It is short and does not self seed but is easily divided. A gardening friend gave me my start over ten years ago and in all these years it has plugged along in my garden. I think here in this full sun location will we see the swirling alliums come into their own. An additional groundcover type perennial I companion planted with the Naked Ladies is Mouse Ears coreopsis and perennial geraniums. Both of these perennials are in bloom right now and will not interfere with the Naked Ladies.
March 10, 2014

At this point the garden is still looking really bare. I decided a needed a plan for this garden so I went home and pulled out my handy 1/4" graph paper. I drew out the dimensions of this perfect circle with the Callaway crabapple in the center and the Naked Lady bulbs in the outer two feet of it. I then divided the circle into quadrants and selected what perennials I thought would do best in this garden and what perennials I wanted to see daily. Those perennials wound up being: peonies (3), 'Autumn Joy' sedum (5), miniature roses (3), shasta daisies (5 clumps), I underplanted all with groundcover perennial geraniums, 'Mouse Ears' coreopsis, and edged the entire garden with swirling alliums as I stated above. I also decided to add a bird house with a climbing clematis. 

May 19, 2014

This is the result two months later. The peonies in this garden did not bloom but they will be fine by next year as the foliage came in nicely. The sedum, geraniums, shasta daisies, miniature roses, and all the perennials are doing outstanding. I did plant a clematis along the 4x4 behind the Callaway crabapple and it is in bloom! It is the clematis in the first photo. This despite being dug up only one month ago. The foliage of the Naked Ladies is starting its downward spiral. Actually, it is almost done with its ratty stage and the foliage is nearly gone. Soon the foliage will completely disappear and the Naked Ladies will be forgotten about until this summer sometime around early August when they should bloom. 

June 2, 2014

 To cover up the bare spots where the Naked Ladies were planted I planted 'Mouse Ears' coreopsis and swirling alliums (Allium senescens var Glaucum). The above shot shows the Mouse ears in bloom. The swirling alliums are the small tuft of foliage on the outer edge. This tuft of foliage will grow in nicely and most likely will bloom along with the naked ladies that are planted in this area as well.
June 2, 2014

I will post updates as they happen in this garden. The above picture shows the garden as it is today (or rather two days ago). Our house is starting to take shape in the background so you can kind of get some orientation to the site. The orchard is to the left of the camera. 

One of the great things about blogging is I can follow the progress and see the changes in the gardens. I think the changes are one of the best things of gardening and I marvel at each change. This garden has served as a divider in our field; which is where most of the workers and even myself wind up parking as work on the house continues. At some point I will be working some more gardens in this area but because this garden is so close to the driveway I knew it would not be in harm's way while the house is being built....

in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. I really enjoy seeing how things are progressing there at the farm. Your new gardens are coming right along and so is your house. It must be really exciting to you.

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

  2. You're SO right about how blogging tracks the progress! I look forward to watching this circle develop. Your thought process is interesting to me (haphazard person that I am).

  3. Good to see your old garden thriving in a new location. Good luck with the crabapples.

  4. Love your crabapple garden. You really planned it out to look good throughout the year. Yea for the progress on the house. So much happening at your new place. It's good to document the progress on the blog. I find myself researching my own garden on my own blog all the time.

  5. What a lovely new garden! It is beautiful.

  6. A new house and moving a garden all at the same time. Where does all the energy come from?.....:)

  7. Love this Circle of Life you have created! You are on a roll with that garden girl....