Friday, April 4, 2014

A beautiful spring garden area (in my mind)

So in my last post, I discussed my idea for a new garden area in the space west and north of my house. I envision this area having several large island-shaped beds containing:
  1. spring-flowering trees
  2. flowering shrubs (mostly spring-flowering)
  3. a few small evergreen trees and shrubs for winter interest
  4. lots of spring bulbs
  5. perhaps some lilies for summer flowers
This area will be mostly a spring garden, peaking in April and May, my favorite time to be outside enjoying the garden.

Who doesn't need more of this in spring?

I think I've basically decided on the shape and placement of the three large island beds, and have been figuring out how much sun each area will receive.

And I would like to thank Larry from conradartglassgardens for all his very helpful advice via email in planning this area. I had been thinking of planting more flowering trees and bulbs, after visiting the MOBOT in St. Louis and seeing a garden video about the Butchart Gardens in British Columbia, but I wasn't sure what form these new gardens should take until I saw Larry's magnificent gardens that he shares with us on his blog. Seeing how beautiful his island-shaped beds are has helped to inspire me to plan this new area, and he has been extremely kind and generous with his time in giving me numerous helpful tips and suggestions.

Three new island beds: #1 is an arc-shaped bed in full sun;
#2 will have partial shade after the trees leaf out;
#3 is against the north foundation of my house and will be mostly shady
all year, except for the northernmost edge of the bed, from which
the second ash tree will have been removed.

I've been doing some research on the trees and shrubs I would like to include, and have been making a list. Today, I'll list a few of the spring-flowering trees that I have been thinking about:

Spring-Flowering Trees:

  1. Flowering cherries (I already have five 'Kwanzan' trees that I planted two years ago, and I will be moving them to different spots in the new beds.)
    'Kwanzan' cherry tree in my west yard. I'll move these around.

  2. Flowering dogwoods, perhaps one or two white-flowering ones
    White flowering dogwood (

  3. Eastern redbuds, probably a couple of these beautiful purple-flowering trees 
    Eastern redbud trees (

  4. Magnolias, several different types including Lily Magnolias, Star Magnolias and perhaps even Sweet Bay Magnolia (which is only marginally hardy here).

The Lily Magnolia 'Jane' on the east edge of my property. It arrived in the
mail as a tiny stick five years ago and now is nearly as tall as
I am. Next to it is a Chinese flowering almond shrub that I found
at Walmart 4-5 years ago. I think I'll put a couple of those in
my new area too. 

In my next post, I'll discuss some flowering shrubs that I'm thinking about including. I'm restricting my list to shrubs with showy flowers in spring, that don't spread by suckering and don't need a yearly "chop" to keep them a reasonable size and shape. I'm trying to design a relatively low-maintenance area that still flowers delightfully each spring. I think by avoiding perennials and sticking to trees, shrubs and bulbs that don't require much attention, I can do this. Here's to more spring flowers!


  1. I planted my magnolia tree few days ago but will it really take 5 years to see it that big? Oh... Nice planning of your front garden, can't wait to see it in bloom:)

  2. Hi Aga, My magnolia was a 10"-long stick when I planted it, so it took a while to get large; several years to flower. How big is your magnolia? Thanks for visiting!

  3. Hi Beth, Great ideas - I'm sure it will be beautiful. I love flowering trees and shrubs. The flowering pear trees are lovely as are crabapples - and of course, magnolias. I hope to add 3 flowering trees this spring. Unlike you, my yard is almost full - not too much space to add more flowers. :(