GB Foliage day -winter greens

I’m a day late minimum with just about everything lately and this post is no exception, but I wanted to squeak in one more Garden Bloggers Foliage Day post with Christina for the 2014 season, since who knows if we’ll have anything other than snow next month… so here goes!

juniper 'old gold'

Even after a few days of shockingly cold days and nights the grass is still green and juniper ‘old gold’ still fresh.

With the autumn leaves gone, foliage is down to the evergreen plantings.  Evergreens are more expensive than perennials and don’t grow well from seed… hence do not match up well with my frugal gardening 🙂  I’ve been doing my best though, and some such as juniper “Old Gold” are finally showing off  -finally- after five years in the ground from a $4 rooted cutting!

A more recent addition are three new rhododendrons which look absolutely overgrown and lush considering the $12 I spent on the bunch.  This purchase went absolutely unnoticed when I mixed it in with a cartload of mortar and tile from the Depot.  You could almost say they were free with purchase, right?

planting rhododendron

Look at the buds on this $4 rhododendron! The plant and price make me understand how hard a nurseryman’s business must be, I’m sure he made no money off this purchase…..

Small patches of winter color are beginning to show up in the backyard too.  This is the first year my boxwood cuttings are big enough to look even remotely like a hedge, and when the grass goes completely brown these bits of green foliage will at least look slightly hopeful.

boxwood cuttings hedge around vegetable garden

My design makes little sense, but hopefully in a few years the vegetable garden will at least look “interesting” even if it never makes it to beautiful.

The only winter color here when we purchased the house were a few foundation plantings along the front, and a line of meatball yews along the south facing side.  After three years of sweaty summertime hedgetrimmering I said ‘screw this’ and let them do their own thing and break away from their tight ballism.  Now I have to chose between the abandoned house look and the bare look of a brutal trim-back.  Any suggestions?  I probably wouldn’t mind trimming them back for a straight hedge along the side,  I could remove them completely, or I could leave just one between the windows and let it get even bigger….. I need a plan though, eyebrows are already being raised here in my end of suburbia and the MIL will soon question my motives since it faces her house 😉

overgrown yew hedge

overgrown yew hedge

Man cannot live on green alone (even with a little yellow) so I foolishly placed an order for some last minute winter foliage via Conifer Kingdom.  God must love either procrastinators or he loves winter garden interest because although Pennsylvania froze the week after I ordered, the box full of evergreens showed up the minute the thermometer went back over freezing.  Today will hopefully top off at 50F (10C), the gale force winds have died off, and it should be perfect for getting these guys in the ground.

Not to overstep my boundaries, but I smell a 50% off sale on fall bulbs at Brent and Becky’s for the day after Thanksgiving.  I will not be able to resist, so I guess we’re going to see how God feels about late bulb orders.

conifer kingdom purchase

My Conifer Kingdom purchase made me happier than a cat in catnip. In a few years I hope to really ‘up’ the level of my garden’s winter interest.  Just look at the needles on that pine! ( Pinus densiflora ‘Burke’s Red Variegated’)

Premium conifers might be as cheap as marigolds in your neck of the woods, but not so much here, so mailorder is my weapon of choice.  For those interested, here’s the breakdown on my order…. $127 total including $25 shipping and $20 discount via a Facebook coupon code (fyi code expired 😦 Nov 21st).

purchase Picea omorika 'Peve Tijn' graft

A free gift included in the order, you can easily see where this dwarf Picea omorika ‘Peve Tijn’ (Serbian spruce) was grafted onto the rootstock.

There’s a reason you can pay through the nose for many of these treasures.  Two of my purchases are 1 year old grafts and really don’t look like much yet,  but that’s because they start life as run of the mill conifer seedlings grown on for a few seasons and then a small bit of the desired cultivar is grafted onto the stem.  Once the graft puts on some size (a slow process at an inch or so of growth each year), the original seedling is cut off and the new plant takes over.

purchase Picea pungens 'Walnut Glen' graft

Dare I say I spent nearly $30 on this little spit of conifer? It’s picea pungens ‘Walnut Glen’, a blue spruce which develops a yellow tinge in the winter. I expect great things form this little guy!

So how’s that for a foliage post?  A November report which speaks of excitement, hope, and anticipation for the future!  Not bad considering the weather, I just have my fingers crossed that I don’t have to re-title this to “That Was Stupid” in another year 🙂

If you’d like to see what foliage is contributing to other gardens across the globe pay a visit to Christina’s blog “Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides“.  I believe you’ll find some bloggers who are enjoying good foliage now, and not just in their dreams for the future!

27 comments on “GB Foliage day -winter greens

  1. Christina says:

    I really enjoyed this very optimistic post Frank. I like your new purchases and am sure the gods will be on your side if you risk a bulb order! I personally don’t think the yew hedge looks too bad, but I like yew a lot (now why is it I don’t have any?) But you could easy prune the tops straight and just take a bit of the sides and it would look great. Yew is so tolerant of being pruned, even hedges literally hundreds of years old, can be brought back down to size. Thanks for your contribution this month and I hope you might find something next month too!

    • bittster says:

      I’m looking at snow outside today and the kids are home from school, but you never know what next month will bring! Perhaps I’ll be out pruning and raking and admiring plenty of winter foliage!
      I’ve been considering the comments and looking at older pictures and I think I might trim them back after all and start a new straight hedge. It shouldn’t be much work to maintain and like you say should recover relatively quickly.
      I have my fingers crossed the weather holds for my bulb order 🙂

  2. Cathy says:

    Once again your optimism has made me smile! Great to see your evergreens doing so nicely, although I would be wary of the yew. They say it grows slowly but we have a lot in our garden and it does tend to take over. We cut back a large one right back to just a trunk a few years ago, and it sprouted out within a few months and has now grown into a lovely shape. I am not keen on our largest two though as the berries make a mess, despite being great food for lots of different birds. Have fun in the bulb sales next week!

    • bittster says:

      I was remarkably restrained for the bulb sales, I only have a few new ones coming my way 🙂
      A year ago my yews were making a mess too with all their berries, and this spring I was surprised with many yew seedlings sprouting throughout the garden! I of course will need to nurse them all on and then be stuck finding homes for them all!

  3. Chloris says:

    How exciting to have bought so many conifers, but my goodness, aren’ t they expensive? Still, they are a long term investment and give structure to your garden all year round.
    Your yew hedge is getting a bit wild and wooly but it can easily be trimmed to whatever height and width you want it, they respond well to trimming.

    • bittster says:

      ‘Getting a bit wild and wooly’ is a very polite way of phrasing it, I’m sure my wife would say otherwise! I will trim it some this winter for holiday decorating and it looks like it will get some further attention this spring.
      My mother would always complain about how expensive shrubs and trees were in this country. I suppose most of it is a combination of shipping costs and scarcity. These plants traveled about 2,500 miles (~4,000km) in order to arrive at my doorstep. It’s not a day-trip.

  4. Conifers don’t appeal to me too much. I feel like there must be a defect in my gardener’s DNA. They are just the thing for making structure where there was none, but I look at the vast ocean of lawn that is my back yard and I really can’t imagine carving it up into rooms. And I don’t think the rest of the family would let me, anyway.

    • bittster says:

      I do prefer conifers in other people’s gardens but just had to have a few for my own, they always seem a little boring if overdone and always have touch of “cemetery planting” to them. I do need a few solid evergreens to set off the earliest of spring bulbs!
      I guess rooms are easier for me. The whole yard is enclosed in fence so that’s the first wall of the room right there…. even if it is a horrible glossy white color. Still I don’t really think I have rooms yet, more just areas to walk through. I like to be surrounded by the plants not just looking at them!
      Growing up, my mother always used to control my lawn killing tendencies. Here I’m far enough away that I only get a mild warning each time she visits and sees a new bed 😉

  5. pbmgarden says:

    You’ve made some astute purchases. Great fat buds on the rhododendron.

    • bittster says:

      Rhododendrons end up in nearly every foundation planting around here… yet I still needed to have a few of my own! I’m looking forward to the blooms 🙂

  6. AnnetteM says:

    Rhododendrons are a great buy as they really brighten up the spring. What colours did you buy? Is your soil acid or will you have to feed them ericaceous compost? As for the yew I am with the others. They can grow quite a lot in a year and can be pruned quite hard. I would take it in hand before you can’t see out of your windows! I am not sure I would prune it just before frost or snow though, maybe the spring would be better? Great conifer purchases – i will look forward to seeing your winter garden.

    • bittster says:

      I’ll probably attack the yews towards the end of winter and hope for some regrowth come summer. I don’t thin I’m ready to get rid of them completely, beggars can’t be choosers and I have little else to choose from!
      The rhododendrons are 2 reds and a purple. I’m not too sure about mixing those colors, but just about everything seems to work together in spring! Our soil is acid enough they should do fine, there are many native rhododendrons and kalmia throughout the local woods so if I get them established they should be trouble free after a few years.

      • AnnetteM says:

        I think red and purple will look fine. I have two reds together which was a mistake as I spend all spring wishing I hadn’t put them together! They are a bit too big now to move. I think I need to get something to break up the colour.

  7. Pauline says:

    There are yew hedges over here that have been left to form wonderful amorphus shapes, they can take on a life of their own. I think pruning next year would be safest if you want to keep it. Your box hedge is doing really well, another year and it will be a proper hedge!

    • bittster says:

      I would love one of those big, undulating yew hedges but have neither the room nor artistic skill to grow anything beyond a square hedge!
      I really like my box though. I have almost a compulsion to edge beds and paths with boxwood and it’s only through will power that I stop myself from making the cuttings and planting them out each year 🙂

  8. donna213 says:

    I am glad you are adding conifers. The wildlife will thank you come winter, well in quite a few winters at a foot a year growth rate. I agree, your yews need a haircut. You (I mean your wife) don’t want them as curtains for the windows.

    • bittster says:

      I was laughing at myself during the last snowstorm. All my “winter interest” was reduced to shapeless mounds in the snow. Yes, it will take a couple years at least 🙂

  9. Personally, I have struggled with the conifer issue. Right now we have only one – a huge Japanese Yew in the back garden. When we moved here there were some little boxwoods along the front steps and some Yews by the front windows that lived a life of torment as they had to be kept to about 4′ or they would block the windows, even though they clearly wanted to grow to about 20′. Those have all been removed, but I would really like some more evergreens in the back garden, perhaps in the west hedge, I just have a hard time finding something that would appeal to both Judy and I. My preference for natives doesn’t help, as there is very little in the way of natives conifers in this area. I like blue spruce, but Judy doesn’t. Junipers have their appeal, but their sharp leaves are hard on those who like to walk barefoot.

    • bittster says:

      I always thought blue spruce was a surefire crowd pleaser, but my wife also dislikes them. Go figure.
      I would like an American holly, but I bet it would disagree with your winters. It’s tough finding something for the North that looks like something other than a Christmas tree, and the dense shade and roots always makes me think twice over adding too many…. but they’re so important for winter shelter, and I bet the birds love your Japanese yew.

  10. You do ‘frugal’ rather well, Frank. Love all your purchases. I like the boxwood hedge — always thought I should have one in my English-style garden. I have just one yew at the front of the house and that’s enough for me to take care of. P. x

    • bittster says:

      So you don’t have any boxwood!? Unheard of 🙂
      If pushed I’ll admit it’s one of my favorite plants, even if it is a little stinky at times, but then I sort of enjoy giving it a nice trim and it doesn’t seem to be as tedious as cutting the yew.

  11. love your conifer purchases. I’ve bought many a pricey “evergreen” over the years with few regrets. As for your yew hedge, given that straight roof line and two windows, I would seriously consider marking a long straight hedge that can be the backdrop for blowsy beds of perennials. Found you when I was searching for info on Hitch Lyman’s address.

    • bittster says:

      Hi Linda,
      Good to hear from you and I think I will trim the yew back to a straight line….. After stealing greenery for the holidays of course!
      I’m glad you commented since I had been following your blog but then somehow lost it. It’s a common problem for me as I try to navigate my tiny phone screen with fat fingers.
      So you’re looking for Hitch’s address? That can only mean one thing, and it’s probably not good. If you dare I would suggest looking up ‘snowdrops in America’ via Facebook. Misery loves company, but your wallet may regret it.

  12. Annette says:

    I don’t remember seeing this vegetable garden of yours before…did you hide it? And why? It looks neat. As for the hedge, I’m a great lover of cloud-pruning and think it would look absolutely fab on that hedge. How do you feel about clouds? I’ve had one hedge clipped into clouds in my last garden and I’m currently growing another one here. Suits the landscape, the rolling hills too.

  13. Annette says:

    Hope you had a good christmas, Frank. I just nominated you for the Liebster Award and hope you find the time to join in (more info in my latest post). Have a wonderful new year! Can’t wait for spring to come 🙂

    • bittster says:

      Well thank you Annette! I’m flattered that you would nominate me and I’m honored to take part. I’ll get on it as soon as I get to a real computer, this phone business just isn’t for me 🙂
      It’s always nice to learn a few new things about fellow bloggers, but I just worry people will be disappointed by the boring truth. Happy new year too you as well and according to my calendar spring will begin to stir in another two months!

  14. Frank, I have nominated you for a Liebster Award as well, and just found out that I am not the first to have done so! Well, if you want to decline my nomination in favor of Annette’s, I won’t mind. Or you can be super-ambitious as Garden in the City was, and answer two sets of questions!
    You can find the details in my latest post:

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