In my heart of hearts, I’m a fair-weather gardener. I’d rather stay indoors when it’s too cold or too hot, but my weather doesn’t often cooperate. I sometimes fantasize about living in Hawaii where I would enjoy this very situation, but not for long.
I sowed most of the seeds I’m starting indoors, and they sit cozy beneath their chicken grit and plastic germinating blankets atop heat mats. Once these were finished, and I could no longer stall, I braved the cold for two days planting cold-weather seeds like peas, lettuce, spinach, beets etc., along with several shrubs I ordered from Forest Farm. It may seem odd that I purchased shrubs all the way from Oregon, but if you want the odd or eclectic, Forest Farm is a great place to hand over your money.
I desire more spring color in the berm our driveway surrounds. Bill doesn’t know, but I’m slowly filling it in to the point where one day there won’t be any grass growing on the burm. Less mowing. Less stress on the watering system than grass.
Don’t tell. I think I have him fooled. Not.
The shrubs I planted are:
Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’ red chokeberry, a U.S. native and Oklahoma Proven Selection in 2009. Really, everyone in Oklahoma should grow this tree for its brilliant–get it–fall color and persistent berries. Pollinators like the flowers, and birds enjoy the berries. It is adaptable to our crazy soils too.
Three Cotoneaster horizontalis ‘Variegatus’–to place in the lower tiered beds and cover some of the walls. I got this idea from a video of Carol Klein and her cottage garden. You haven’t watched Carol Klein? Well, you’re missing out on one of the most enthusiastic British gardeners. She’ll take you by the hand and help you. I got variegated ones though because I’m contrary like that.
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Beauty’ just because I love witch hazels. One more can’t hurt.
Ilex decidua ‘Red Escort’. I already have the female tree, ‘Warren’s Red.’ Possumhaws are native to the U.S. ‘Warren’s Red’ was a branch sport discovered and selected by Otis Warren and Son Nursery in Oklahoma City. I can’t locate when they selected it, but it’s a bittersweet memory from a local nursery that is long gone.
Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus,’ gold-leaved mock orange, is one I considered ever since I read about it on Margaret’s blog, A Way to Garden. Margaret and I share a tender affection for golden-leaved and chartreuse plants. I trust her suggestions. Although I don’t see many mock oranges planted here, I smelled one in North Carolina that I almost got out the clippers and snipped off a branch to root. Not really. I’m a better garden visitor than that, but I can’t say the thought didn’t cross my mind. I’m human.
Prunus mume ‘Kobai’ Japanese apricot, as suggested by J. C. Raulston, an Oklahoma transplant who inspired everyone he knew. This one scented my entire house when I lifted it out of the box. Only one bloom was open on a small whip of a tree. I placed it in an empty partially-sunny spot where an early cherry tree died long ago.
All of these shrubs will grow where water either drains, or the irrigation system already flows. I’ve spent too many summers trying to keep up hand watering and failing. Shrubs and trees are a long-term relationship and expensive too. They get the star treatment here.