Friday, May 28, 2010

How You Look At It: 'Black Lace'

There are two ways of looking at trees: the closeup examination of a single specimen, noting the shape, size, leaf form and habit of an oak tree, for example; and the overall view of the forest, where the combination of multiple oaks, maples, hickories, etc. creates a completely different perspective.

So it is with gardens. Some folks wander into my backyard and say, "Nice flowers." They are seeing the "forest" view. Others, upon seeing my flower garden, say, "Wow! What is this? And that? What is that?" They are "specimen" viewers. I tend to be a specimen viewer, and it's a challenge for me to look at my garden with "forest" perspective. I think the most gifted gardeners are able to switch perspectives easily and can even plan for a garden that appeals on both levels. I am, sadly, a novice at this. Sometimes I look at my garden and think it is all too uniform. Every plant seems to be too much the same size, the same color, the same value--to use a painterly term.

I've created it as a collector of specimens, with an eye to only that. I've failed at looking at the overall design and "forest" view. I'm working at this problem, but have had little success in overcoming it.

Even so, there are some standouts in my flower bed that fill the bill on both levels and almost everyone comments on them, regardless of how they see a garden. The sambucus 'Black Lace' is just such a focal point. Right now it is covered in large pannicles of pink, which pop against the feathery, nearly black, foliage.

If you want an easy plant for the back of the garden, this is it. It would also be excellent planted near the house, a dramatic entryway plant that doesn't get too large, yet is big enough to make a statement. Untrimmed it will reach approximately 8' in height. It's hardy in zones 4-7 and appreciates full sun or part shade. In my windy, exposed garden it maintains an attractive shape without pruning.
An elderberry, it should produce fruit, but I've never seen any on mine. I think it might be that birds get them. Best of all, 'Black Lace' sambucus is a beauty no matter how you look at it! Photos by JulenaJo.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Notes from the Rose Garden

So far this year the garden is looking better than I expected after the way several plants turned chlorotic on me last year. To help pull them out of it, I've been heavily feeding the roses. The plentiful rain helps, too. The blooms are numerous and huge. Just look at the blossom of 'Brilliant Pink Iceberg,' shown above. The reverse of those lovely painted petals is white. What a stunner!
I've been ruthlessly ripping out anything that looks weak. I lost the multi-hued rose 'Flutterbye.' Only one malformed shoot sprouted this spring, so out she went. I wasn't about to wait and see what the monstrosity produced by way of bloom, if anything. The plant was obviously diseased.
Out went the trio of 'Carefree Delight' shrub roses. While I've been a great fan of this rose ever since seeing the glorious hedge of them at Whetstone Park of Roses in Columbus, OH, I had to admit they just were not performing up to snuff in my own wind-beaten backyard. In addition, the super prickly canes prevented any possibility of weeding under and around them, and every year there were dead canes that I had trouble cutting out. I've been happily contemplating what might go in the hole they left in my flower bed.
The roses that looked chlorotic last year are still looking a little peaked. I've been drenching them with Miracle Gro Rose Food every week in addition to the regular granules I use every six weeks. The yellowed leaves are taking on a little green finally. Whew. Who would ever think that a rugosa like 'Wildberry Breeze' would go chlorotic? Aren't they supposed to be foolproof? I guess NOT! The floribunda 'Angel Face' looked bad, too, but she's rallying.
Ah well...the backyard smells heavenly. Now if we'd just get a few sunny days so that I could get out and enjoy it! 'Brilliant Pink Iceberg' photos by JulenaJo.