Spring Project started today

Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)March 3, 2006

It's cold and it's windy to say the least, but I finally started this spring's landscaping project today. Took the day off as the car went in for some maintenance and I finally engage muscle and sweat into that which I've mused and dreamed of this winter..

While I've recently purchased a digital camera I did not photograph the "before" pic.

For those of you who are interested, I will post pics later (of the finished product).

The project: Removing a row of 40 yo taxus that were planted in my back yard of of my ranch (of 8 years). The yews were planted in front of a slightly raised (2') deck that is 36' x 12'. There were 6 of them and today I used the lopers to cut down the tops (I've been trimming them up for privacy and to show the trunk). Then used the bow saw to cut back the trunk to nearly ground level.

Fun part will be excavating these babies (as I've done a few in my day).

It's amazing of the additional vertical space that's now apparent and which I visualized when I decided to tackle this. To say there's more room in the backyard is also an understatement as 40 yo yews had a diameter (from deck edge to front of the plant of nearly 8').

All of the cuttings have been piled up curbside, and I am lucky to live in a town where the Township comes by weekly (this time of year) with a front end loader to pick this up.

Plantings? Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. Something blue.....well, I don't know about that last one, but visualize if you can. The garden bed is already in place. I'll just need to rototill and edge what is there at this time. Plus there's 2 drums of compost that will be worked in along with the oakleaf litter that now predominates as mulch in this garden bed.

An ilex verticillata 'Winter Gold' will be planted off of the right of the steps as one enters the backyard (no fence) from the driveway. The slate walkway leads to the deck steps. Ilex will be to the right of the stairs and will have plenty of room to grow out with plenty of room in this site (as I have mature Winter Reds elsewhere on the property).

As one moves into the yard (and not up the steps of the deck), I will be planting 'something new'....in this case, I'm going to take advantage of the neighboring orange berries of Winter Gold by planting Hammelis, either 'Diane' (a purple) or 'Kohankie Red' (another purple) which Rare Finds is carrying and offering for sale this year. Moving along this segment of the bed (it is interrupted by a short stairway nearly in the middle of the deck as one would exit the sliding glass doors strait down the 2 step stairs into the yard).....I will be placing a transplant from elsewhere in the garden, in this case, an evergreen, viburnum 'judii', which will provide some late April fragrance. The final 'anchor plant' and one that will serve as sort of a left sentinel of the stairs will be aronia 'brilliantissima'. Another will be planted on the other side of the stairs.

After the stairway break (and the aforementioned 2nd aronia), I'll be planting (again moving plants from elsewhere on my property): fothergilla major 'Mt. Airy', calicarpa japonica (a 4' transplant) aka 'beautyberry' or viburnum 'burkwoodii' which would be another transplant from elsewhere in the garden and could stand to be moved to a more friendly microsite. With a Japaneese Maple in the 20' class at the right corner of the deck, I will not be planting any shrubs near it because of the rootsysten if acer. A friend has offered over a dozen penstemon 'Husker Red' which I'm going to plant and hope for the best.

There's some infilling for both bed segments. There's two dec. azaleas that I picked up last year (a white and a red, unanmed) which I'll interplant (the red near the judii for color contrast as I believe the red goes off the 1st week of May...it may be Gallipoli Red...don't know).

Wish me luck. I'm just about done with the grunt end of it. And I look forward to planting as early as next week.

Pics to follow once I get the hang of being able to post them.

...................black earth live again.


This backyard site gets vg morning into early afternoon sun.

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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Make that 8 yew stumps and what a hump job just to excavate one of these bad boys........

Oh well. One down..........7 to go.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 5:00PM
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jerseygirl07603 z6NJ

Man, it sure is cold up here in Bergen County! I guess it's not quite that nippy where you live if you are out and digging. Good luck with your project. Sounds like it will be nice when you are done. But getting there is half the fun! I always enjoy a good yard renovation! Keep us posted on your progress.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 9:39PM
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Datdog(z7 NJ)

Ted I enjoyed your post! I'm not a cold weather gal so I find I can't even drag myself out there to prune and do a general clean up. I'll live vicariously via your posting- keep them up. :) Kristi

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 8:58AM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Thanks. While I'm a white collar guy (in my early 50's), for years I worked weekends doing landscape contracting with a dear friend who's imparted enough knowledge that I could probably go into business myself. Chronolgically though it's a no-no, which is why even he, went back to school p/t for 10 years to get his LA from Temple.

As for the project. 4 down. 4 to go. While it's cold, once you get moving it's ok. It's a real hump excavating these yews as they not only have fibrous roots, they have 2" caliper (I'll call them tap roots, though oftentimes, they extend outward from the main root sytem). Two tools are indespensable. The dual tool (axe & awl) along with a 10 lb. sledgehammer to knock it silly. : )

I do hope to be able to get them all out this weekend. If so, I just may call Hank Schannen to ask if he's open. ;^ )

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 10:31AM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Well all 8 were finally excavated. The last 2 were bears to get out. A dear friend brought over the rototiller and I expect to till, amend (with 2 50 gal. compost bins), and edge the bed this coming weekend. My shoulders are so sore as I type this evening, but it's a good hurt.

Now, the fun part. As it's my birthday Friday, I'll be taking the 'floating holiday' that the personnel policy at the office affords and I intend on visiting Rare Finds for that Hammelis and then some. Whenever I visit that nursery, I end up buying twice of what my budget is. I know that there are some dec. azaleas in my radar, perhaps one of those trick Mags that Schannen is now offering (Coral Lake is a beauty).

Pics to follow upon completion (and leaf out) :^ )

    Bookmark   March 5, 2006 at 8:15PM
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Loretta NJ Z6

I feel so lazy now.

I have Winter Gold and this is the first year it is of any size or berry production to start appreciating it and it really is a show-off. It has a lot of potential in the winter landscape and gets me thinking. It should work well with the witchhazels.
Diane really doesn't have a scent BTW, if that is important to you. And Husker Red stinks - very musky, probably less than a stinky salvia. It hasn't stopped me from growing both of them. They are so pretty. The penstemon needs staking if not in full sun.

My back hurts for you.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 11:04AM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Well, well, well. After 2 hrs of rototilling, edging the bed, and grading, the planting bed is ready to go.

I'm off from work today (it's my b'day) and rather than push it, I'll go to Rare Finds tomorrow as I can get my hands on a pickup for one or two 7 gal jobs from Shannon, though I have more than enough to choose from here at the house (and which can be moved).

I'm off to Manhattan for the Big East semis tonite at MSG. While there's plenty of tix available, a friend who was up there last nite (and who was going to get me tix from the UConn/WVU fans who were exiting with long faces and crying smiles after losing to Syracuse & Pitt respectively) said everyone wanted a hundred a ticket.

As I'm going up with my 14 yo (who loves NYC and wants to eventually live up there), I let him know this a.m.>>> >>I'm not dropping a benjie for a hoop game which we can see on the tube.

Told him we'll go out to dinner if that's the case but he'll have to put up with an hour set with Ahmad Jamal at the BlueNote in the Village. While he balked, it's a quid pro quo. No dinner without my seeing Ahmad's set. He smiled and reluctantly acquiesed.

Pix of the project still in progress and will be shared with anyone who's interested.

...............black earth live again. ;^ )

    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 2:14PM
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sugar_magnolia(z6 Hamilton, NJ)

Happy b-day BirdSong; mine is on the 18th... just one more thing we have in common. Fly through the night!

So, a white collar guy in your 50s??? I hope you will find this funny and not be insulted -- I thought you were a woman :-) and was surprised to learn differently. What do you do if I may ask -- something in the copywriting or editing field?

Anyway, does Rare Finds have a web site? I could not locate them on the web. What town are they in? I am thinking of getting a Hammelis.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 10:23PM
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Loretta NJ Z6

Here it is.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rare Find Nursery

    Bookmark   March 11, 2006 at 10:16AM
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Loretta NJ Z6

I know more people born on March 10th than any other day of the year. Happy Birthday!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2006 at 10:19AM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Thanks Sugar Mag, Loretta. Looks like you just eek into being a Pices there Maggie. Fwiw, I fit the astrological profile to a "t".

As an aside regarding the gender mis I.D. It's ok. Gardneing brings out the feminine side in me. That along with my love of music.

I see that Loretta did provide you with the link. Now. Rare Find is not for the faint of heart when you read the ticket price. While Mr. Shannon has indeed raised prices about 20% over what used to be, his stock is indicative of the name: His plants are indeed Rare Find, and typically are unavailable elsewhere or in the sizes that he sells.

As it was a birthday treat, my 5' Hammelis 'purperea' (is more purple) clocked in at a buck and a quarter. Along with a dec. azalea, Millenium, it was a shade under $200. I'm happy as that's what I wanted. Millenium, I'm told will bloom in July which is a late one when it comes to azaleas.

Well, I'm off to pre water some of the prospective transplants that need to be dug up later today.

All good things in all good time.


Postscript: As to 3/10, if you live in Central or Northern NJ, an annual birthday broadcase is done on this date via WKCR 89.9FM, Columbia U. Bix Beiderbecke, a jazz musician from the 30's is played for 24 hrs. Listening to his music yesterday, one can easily conjure Fred & Ginger gliding across the dance floor as one listens.

Billie Holiday's broadcast is coming up in April for those you who may love her voice. I believe the 10th.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2006 at 12:42PM
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sugar_magnolia(z6 Hamilton, NJ)

I love the old jazz singers.

I've been drooling over the plants on the rare find web site!!! Have fallen in love with some of the heucherra (sp) and mahonia offered. Also have my eye on the gardenia, camillias, and the aforementioned hammelis. Hmmm, maybe I should cancel my bday weekend getaway and spend all my money at the nursery:-)

I am concentrating on evergreens this year (winterberry, too, because the berries are awesome). I am fed up with my yard only looking nice when everything is in bloom and have decided that nearly everything around the perimeter will be an evergreen (do not fear -- not lining up arborvitae one after another like sentinel soldies). The evergreens will provide a beautiful backdrop for perennials and annuals as well as screen out my neighbors and the ugly chain link fence 24/7! I am most especially excited to see the red twig dogwood in the winter against an evergreen backdrop... add some snow, mmmmmmm.

I assume everything is top quality from Rare Find? Is any guarantee offered if the plant dies?

Good luck with the hammelis. Your yard sounds wonderful.

Sorry fdor all the typos and misspellings. I was put on pain meds for my back today and they seem to be affecting me.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 8:10PM
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Loretta NJ Z6

Well I would like to join the pisces club here as I qualify.

There is a Hamamelis purpurea at Frelinghuysen near the gift shop in bloom now. The color reminds me of wine. It's probably half the size of yours though. Did you pass on the magnolia? Coral Lake is very beautiful.

Sugar Magnolia:
Top quality? Not in the way you might be thinking. Not everything is going to look like it came from Monrovia. Although there are specimen plants available, there are also very young plants for sale - barely past a rooted cutting and sizes in between. The real quality comes in having the choices available. Also, watch what you buy. For heucheras and such, you will spend more than you would at a place like Strawberry Blossom in Wayne, maybe twice as much. Unfortunately, I learned that one from experience. I did think some things were reasonable.

You must go at the height of the rhodie season and plan to spend most the day there. You will never be able to pick out your favorite. Everyone there was very helpful and went out of their way. This year I want to go back for the one I passed up last time - an evergreen azalea - Koromo Shikibu.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 9:59PM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

Good morning all (Loretta, Sugar Mag). Well I finally installed the last of the plantings yesterday. All were moved from other parts of the gardens, and I beleive I was blessed in that the overnight of each planting had nice showers come down and wet the new plantings.

I did not purchase Coral Lake.The final planting scheme did change a bit. From the look after entering the back yard, there's the Hammelis purpurea was planted with three dec azaleas fronting that planting (exbury whitethroat, rh. millenium and a yet unknown dec. exbury (red). Next is a leatherleafed viburnum that I picked up 'off season' up in Warren County one Nov. a few years back. It's got nice purple leaves that have held over the winter and will be a nice bit of composition to the purperea that is next door. (btw, I did not move the Winter Gold verticillata.....don't know why I didn't......just chalk it up to a 'feeling').

Rounding out this bed (before the steps out of the middle of the deck) is aronia 'brilliantissima' which also serves as the sentinel on the other side of the step down.

Viburnum's juddii, and burkwoodii round out the bed (right before the Jap. Maple). While my transplants were of nice landscape size, I could not 'jam' the plant listing that I had pre-picked for the project. Thus the beautyberry and frothegilla remain.

Pics will be shared of the project (once leaf out occurs in a few weeks, as even these nice size specimens don't look like much at this time).

I like it. While my bride commented that all of the birds lost valuable habitat and cover with my removal of the yew hedge, just a few minutes ago, I had Carolina wren and white throated sparrows foraging around some of the oak leaf litter that remains (just under the deck and the new beds).

Now, onto scarfing off a sliver of one of the front beds so that I can move a dw. mucronulatum rhodie. Then there's the ilex glabra that needs to move into the slot that the rh. myrtifolium was Fun stuff.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2006 at 7:05AM
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sugar_magnolia(z6 Hamilton, NJ)

Let's hear it for pisces! Thanks for the heads up on rare find, Loretta.

Birdsong, you sound like me moving all the plants sround -- probably how I hurt my back. It drives my husband crazy. I don't know why because I am the one that moves them. I guess he doesn't like change.

I planted a few Thuja green giants and moved azaleas, red twig dogwoods, hostas, and hydrangea. I was thankful for the rain, too, but the winds on Monday nearly torn my thuja out of the ground. I had to run outside and put tomatoe cages around them all.

What do you folks (Birdsong, Loretta) think about me planting gardenia augusta chuck hayes on either side of the walkway leading up to my house?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2006 at 10:30PM
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