Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pine Gone!

Where the big gap in the border is, once stood my 15' Austrian black pine.
It's Saturday, a day when many tackle the to-do list that has been building for a week or more.  This morning, it looks like we might get some fierce pop-up thunderstorms.  We could use the rain.  I think the last time it really rained here was the beginning of August.  I know, because it was torrential when my village board meeting was done and I had opted to walk to it instead of drive.

Noah ( says otherwise.  "Noah" says this or Noah said that.  Friends and family kindly reminds me another Noah built an ark.  I am watering.  Later, Faithful Companion will supervise as I mow the lawn that doubles as my garden paths.  It is lush and green.  While I don't water the lawn per se, it gets a lot of moisture and is sheltered from the sun by my borders.  My lawn is lush and green, and has too much clover in it for my liking, but green.  It is nice to sit on, unlike the lawns once I leave my street.  The lawns here benefit from having gardeners in attendance and even the busiest drag out the hose and turn on the sprinklers.

Two years in a row of drought, although this year is misleading with our milder temperatures.  Last year it was hard to keep up with the endless watering and many private wells were tested, and failed.

For the past year, I have been tackling a much broader scope of gardening to-dos.  My garden has plateaued and as every gardener knows, gardens are about change.  Whether it is the bloom cycle or the growth of shrubs and trees, changing shade and sun patterns as the seasons change, change in a garden is a constant.  Big, sudden changes are sometime difficult for us to envision.   If you had proposed to me a year ago I would have decided to remove my small pine in my back yard, I would have given you a perplexed look.

I have always admired the Austrian black pines in expansive landscapes of stately homes in expensive neighborhoods in Illinois.  I admired their form, lushness, and how they are pines "all the way to the ground".  This last may seem an odd comment, until you realize I was surrounded with "self-trimming" Jack (red pines) and white pines most of my life.  These pines constantly lose their branches one after another from the ground up, growing 40' or 50' in as many years and retaining branches on only the top 20' or 30'.

This year, my neighbors sided the garage with this nice vinyl in an appealing shade.  Suddenly, screening the view wasn't super-important.  With siding, I could consider the fence extending all the way to the garage, not needing to consider access for painting.  My mind just keep moving from there.  That Bloodgood seedling with the interesting leaves, now nearly four feet tall could have its own space, not just tucked in a holding space pretending to be a colorful perennial, as it matured enough to fight it out on its own...and how nice would its foliage look against that sage-y green!

So, on Thursday, my brother, the Gardening Twins, and Baby Boo came to cut down the pine, pick apples and make pizza.  My brother chided me on not moving it to his place five years ago, where sap suckers could have at while it held down visual real estate in a much larger frame dividing his historical property from train and interstate.  "Can't we still figure out how to move it?"  I gave him that look; it's 15' tall!  (I'd already dealt with my angst and its issues many times.)

We had a moment to consider in silence, and then cut it down piece by piece in sections, gave it due homage, counting its rings, admiring its lushness at the top branches, and carefully piled its branches in a huge convex stack.

Other changes in my garden this week!

Honeycrisp apples are ripe!  My tree has been loaded this year.  I should have thinned the apples, but I have been doing extra watering to cover my lapse in judgment!

Sweet Autumn clematis began to bloom this week!

I hadn't really noticed it before, but at least this calibrachoa appears to close at night.

This is the fourth year for this plant orange-flowering Hardy Hummingbird Trumpet, Zauschneria californica ssp. latifolia (There are a couple different common and Latin names for this!) in my garden.  It must be well-placed as it is typically given a zone 6 or 7 rating.  Monrovia considers it hardy to zone 8!  Mine does go dormant and is slow to get going, but is not unsightly while thinking about it.  It looks great planted in this scree area with the fescue 'Elijah Blue'.

Japanese False Cypress or Boulevard Cypress is looking particularly good this year.

After believing this smokebush 'Nordine' dead early this June and cutting the thing to the ground shortly thereafter, it has regrown to the height it had attained last year.  This years color has been remarkable and intense, but the trade-off was no "smoke".
Just a note, these last three plants are all a bit out of their zone, growing in my garden.

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