Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Bowdoinham Plant Sale

We were one of the first in line at the Bowdoinham Public Library Plant Sale, and it paid off handsomely. We got three big beautiful hemlocks, a maidenhair fern, a pink yarrow to replace the Raspberry Wine bee balm in the Picket Fence bed, another catmint for the silver garden, a yellow dogwood, and a white bleeding heart for the front garden. It is truly a fabulous sale.

One of the reasons I love the Bowdoinham sale is that every plant is clearly labeled with name and cultivar if known, with clear, succinct cultivation requirements, and often a photo of the blooming plant is included in the display. If the dedicated volunteers who put on this sale can manage labeling of that quality, why is it so hard for nurseries? It astonishes me that a group of dedicated volunteers can pull off what American nursery business can't manage... although upon second thought, not really. Volunteers accomplish more than most of us ever realize, especially in this era of dependance upon local non-profits to fill in for government services. But I digress -- this is after all supposed to be mostly about rural living, gardening and chickens, right?

After the plant sale, we came home and installed the chicken run and mowed the lawn. Sunday was planting day, and plant we did -- we managed to get all but 2 plants in the ground, and we moved several others. Here are the hemlocks in their new home, providing screening from the neighbors on the east. To the right is a trellis we set up for vining annuals -- as yet, not at the vining stage.

We planted the purple nine bark in the bed along the east boundry. It is backed by the row of arborvitae our neighbors planted last year. I hope there is enough space that the ninebark will get the sun needed to hold the dark purple leaf color -- the arborvitae backing will show it off nicely. In front of the ninebark are 2 meadow rue, a lavender and a white. The lavender with its ruddy purple-green stems will look great against the ninebark in a few years.

On the other end of this bed, I relocated our beach plum, and planted the chocolate eupatorium (Joe Pye weed) I got at the plant sale. Next to it I divided some Raspberry Wine bee balm which I think will look good with the purple leaves of the eupatorium. In the center of the bed is a small, Rumba weigelia, which has a burgundy tint to the leaves. In a few years I'll be able to divide the eupatorium and repeat it throughout the bed, and continue to add other plants which will show off these purple beauties.

Further down the yard the fothergilla I planted last year is blooming now. It is gorgeous, I can hardly wait to see what it will look like as a mature shrub if it is this stunning now. This is a large fothergilla, which will supposedly sucker, but there is also a dwarf variety available for smaller gardens. It has a nice leaf texture and I think will make a good backdrop shrub for the back of the border in addition to putting on a stunning show in mid spring.

Between the fothergilla and the hemlocks, I planted a Canadian serviceberry. I bought a good sized one with many stems at the Fedco tree sale and divided it, planting the other at the back of the lot near the naturalized flowering crabs. I like these suckering shrubs as I'll be able to readily propagate additional shrubs for the overgrown far back of the lot to improve the bird habitat.

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