A Garden for All Seasons
Written by: Jean Ferdinandsen, Certified Arborist WI-0149A
Many of our clients not only love and care for their trees, but also strive to make their property unique and special. One particular client, who wishes to stay anonymous, has spent many years cultivating a small urban lot into something very special. There is no turf or lawn anywhere, even on the street terrace. The result is a low maintenance landscape that is very environmentally friendly and provides year round interest.
A myriad of hardy groundcovers, perennials and bulbs provide year round color and interest. Low growing sedums, pachysandra, ivy, and others mix to give a Persian carpet effect on the ground. These tolerate some light foot traffic. Steppers and paths provide access throughout the yard in higher traffic areas. Spring bulbs such as squill and daffodils herald the start of the season.
Perennials add more color throughout the season. Just a few examples are:
- Siberian iris that give a vertical element
- Roses provide fragrance and color all summer
- Perennial geraniums and a variety of ornamental grasses also give color, texture, sound, and interest even through the winter
- Hostas thrive in the shady nooks in a variety of size, color and texture. Some even have showy, fragrant flowers.
Perennial vines such as climbing hydrangea and varieties of summer and fall blooming clematis soften fences, walls, and tutuers (garden pyramids).
But the real stars of this landscape are the many conifers and evergreens. They include dwarf types- those that only grow 1-2”/year and are less than 6’ tall after 10 years; intermediate types- those that grow 1-6”/year and are less the 16’ tall after 10 years; and full size types with a faster growth rate and larger mature size. Some of the evergreens in this yard were purchased locally. Others were ordered via mail and nurtured for many years from small pots.
The slower growth rates allow for more variety in a smaller area and less maintenance. The evergreens provide year round color plus a back drop and “bones” for the yard. Colors are not only various shades of green, but blue, chartreuse, yellow, and white high lights. Form can vary from spreading, upright or fastigiated, to weeping. Textures also vary from very stiff to very soft, both visually and physically.
Many varieties of spruce, pine, juniper, arborvitae, chamaecyparis, and boxwood are utilized. All in this relatively small space. This style of garden is often used in northern Europe and the Pacific Northwest. The evergreens provide color regardless of the time of year and whether the sun is out or not. Year round interest, color, and screening result in low maintenance, and yes, something very special.
There have been changes throughout the years. No garden or life is static. Some full sized trees have outgrown their space and been removed and replaced. Yew hedges have been radically pruned to reduce their size and invigorate them. New plants have been brought in.
It has been my pleasure to work with this customer and their unique and beautiful landscape for several years. Each time I go there, I take a deep breath, feel myself relax, and take time to look around. Such is the power of nature and this special garden.