Monday, April 28, 2014

What an Arbor Day!

The Red Oak tree that my whole family helped plant on Arbor Day.
I hope it will grow to shade our house (behind me as I took the photo
and planted to the southwest of it). My kids were impressed when we
told them that it could live for 100 years or more if it likes the spot
(and if nobody cuts it down or hits it with a lawn mower -- I'll make
a nice big mulch circle around it after it stops raining.)

I'm finally starting to recover from my 2-day marathon of shopping, digging and planting trees and shrubs (and my muscles are incredibly sore!).

Friday was such a lovely day, that I decided it would be the day to go shopping for trees and shrubs. I have spent the past two weeks advance shopping with a camera, doing hours of internet research and mapping out on a drawn plan where things will go in my new island beds, as well as in other areas that need trees or shrubs. I printed out a list of what to buy at each store (with the best prices) and got in our pickup truck. (Unfortunately, I forgot to put on sunscreen or a hat, not realizing it would take me five hours of shopping to buy everything, mostly outdoors, on a sunny day...)

I hit the main plant outlets: Menards, Lowe's, Wal-mart, Earl May and Hy-Vee, and filled my truck bed with trees, shrubs and a few perennials that I have been looking for. A list of what I planted (the areas don't look too good yet, not having been mulched, so I won't post too many photos yet):

Soft Serve False Cypress
Emerald Green Arborvitae
Sawara False Cypress 'Gold mops'
Robusta Green Juniper
Hicks yew
Green Mountain boxwood pyramid
Pink flowering dogwood
Yoshino Cherry
Magnolia 'Ann'
Magnolia 'Butterflies'
Star Magnolia 'Royal Star'
Eastern redbud 'Hearts of Gold'
White Birch
Northern Red Oak
Apple 'Honey Crisp'
Weigela 'Pink Poppet' (3)
Spirea Vanhoutte
Itoh Peony 'Bartzella'
Golden Barberry 'Aurea'
'Garden Glow' dogwood (3)
Sum & Substance hosta
Japanese forest grass 'All Gold'
Bleeding Heart 'Gold Heart' (3)

No wonder my muscles hurt!

I spent the last few hours of daylight on Friday (Arbor Day, appropriately enough) starting to plant, and continued first thing Saturday morning, working until early evening in constant fierce winds of probably 30 mph. I wanted to get things planted before this rainy week began, and I was able to get almost everything into the ground (with my husband's help -- he planted the oak tree with our children on Friday, the apple and birch on Saturday, and watered everything for me when I was finished!)

OK, so it doesn't look like much yet. The trees and shrubs are still small
and the island areas haven't been mulched yet, but it's a start. Azaleas
and a rhododendron, pink-flowering dogwood in the raised mound and
star magnolia behind it. The other trees can be seen in the background.

Planting the dogwood was the hardest part: since we have clay, non-acidic soil, I dug out a five-foot diameter circle, first removing the sod, which I put aside, then I dug out a foot or so of soil, which I also put aside. I then added compost and sulfur and dug that in. Then, to raise the level of this area, I put in all the sod chunks from this hole as well as from all the other holes I dug for the other trees, into this hole, in a doughnut-shaped ring with the sod face-down, and topped up with compost and sulfur again. I then planted the dogwood tree in the center of the doughnut ring and backfilled with the dirt and more compost, sprinkling sulfur on top around the tree. I know it will settle some as the sod decomposes, but it is the best I can do to improve drainage for this picky tree. Who knows if it will survive, let alone thrive, but if it doesn't, it won't be for want of physical effort on my part....

The shrubs and perennials in the gold section of the North Foundation
Border, behind the house. I will plant tall, dark green ferns in the
back corner area, and more plants as I find them
or divide them from my existing gardens.

I'll post more photos after I have mulched and edged the areas. (To see what the outline and general idea of these new beds will be, see my post about it.) But even after mulching, it still won't look that great since the trees are all still so small, but at least it should look tidier. More work ahead -- Thanks for reading!


  1. Wow, you were busy. Good to get it planted before the rains came. We had 0.8" rain in the gauge on Saturday, 0.6 on Sunday, and 3" today! So not a lot of gardening will be happening for a few days, until things dry out a bit. I think your additions will be splendid in your gardens. Can't wait to see your gardens progress over this year and beyond.

  2. Thanks so much for your encouraging comment, Beth! It's sometimes hard to keep the vision of what I hope it will be in 5-10 years in mind, when it's still just tiny sticks in dying sod. :-) You've gotten more rain than we have so far (only 1.5" so far yesterday and today), so perhaps it will move our way tomorrow and we'll get more. Thanks for reading!

  3. I understand why you planted so many shrubs and trees and why your muscles are sore! The garden is huge! And it will look lovely when everything starts to grow. Good job!

  4. Thanks, Aga! I really hope it will look nice in a few years. Thanks for reading! -Beth