Anything but writing

Room with a view

DSCN0672Here’s the view from my office window, showing the  white oak that has always been a source of pleasure to me. (And yes, I’m afraid that window does need cleaning rather badly.)

But its days are numbered. It’s a big tree, probably between 80 and 100 years old, but it is dying. Most of the greenery in the picture is produced from the trees on the other side of the street and the majority of it, including branches near the roof, have no leaves. We think it became infected with oak bores, which do what they sound like (poor conversationalists who drill into trees). So I’ve spent the last couple of days talking to tree companies about removing it and bracing myself to move the hostas growing around it which are getting bigger every day. I moved some peonies today. Very scary roots.

Photo Library - 0836Here’s the tree in the last real snowstorm we had, several years ago.

And here’s a really old tree, a 1,000-year old yew tree growing outside the church in Steventon, where Jane Austen’s father, and then her brother, held the living:

Photo Library - 0535So today I’m mostly filthy and bits of compost are falling off me as I walk around the house. In addition to the peony, I have planted about 18 black-eyed susans and a volunteer columbine that appeared in a plant pot (well, hello!), and have so much more to do.

What do you think I should plant in the oak’s place? I’m in Maryland, so a natural choice might be a dogwood (at risk because of a virus–I’ve already lost one) or a redbud. Or I could plant a flowering cherry, which isn’t a native but is an honored adoptee.

If you’re a gardener, or would like to be, tell me what you’re planting this year or admiring in other’s yards.

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9 years ago

I don’t know if this would grow well in Maryland, but I’m admiring magnolias at the moment, which have suddenly burst into bloom in England! I would get one with deep rose-pink flowers. I think you have to prune them carefully while they’re young to make a good wine-glass shape, and then they grow away into relatively compact trees (here, at least). I’m not aware of any virus which targets them – we, too, are having problems with different diseases attacking trees.

Another tree I love is the lime – the leaves are emerging just now and they are a lovely lime-green (what a surprise)! The flowers later in the year smell gorgeous, but limes do drop a dew so should be avoided if you have anything (e.g. a car) which it would spoil. I’ve seen lime pruned and trained all sorts of ways (pleached lime hedges are fun) so you could get it the shape and size you want, or just let it grow into beauty!

That close to the house I’d avoid willow or birch. In fact, I wonder if that close to the house you should go for something which stays small. How about a crab apple? John Donne? – just because of the name and because its fruit makes good crab apple jelly. Now I’m getting really keen – beautiful blossom, attractive foliage, good autumn colour… yes, go for a malus!!

Elena Greene
9 years ago

I’m so sorry about the oak, Janet. Love old trees.

Not being in Maryland and not being an especially talented gardener, I’m not sure what to suggest. I have a flowering crab in front of our house which I enjoy most in spring when it flowers, then again in the fall and early winter, when the hips attract hordes of cedar waxwings.

My grape hyacinths and daffodils are putting on a nice show right now, later than usual but very welcome.

Lesley A.
Lesley A.
9 years ago

This year, I’m experimenting in miniature gardening – containers. I have a “Regency Urn” filled with a “fairy garden” and I have a bird cage garden complete with miniature birdhouse and birdbath. I have many trees at my home, palms, magnolia, Ah-ha (might be he-he but i can’t quite recall), Norfolk Island Pine and peach! My favorite is the peach.

I would recommend a Pink Dogwood because I had a love affair with one when i was a child, literally broke my heart when my dad cut it down, I cried and cried. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and the leave of that big tree created a perfect umbrella to sit under and listen to the rain without getting wet. Even when it was dying, it had beautiful rainbow streaked leaves – it was a poetic death for a tree – beauty in death…but i digress.

I like the crab apple idea or a Japanese Ornamental Plum can come in beautiful dark purple leaf if I’m not mistaken. But Dogwood is my vote.

Diane Gaston
9 years ago

I’m with Lesley. But plant a pink dogwood AND a white one!
But if you don’t want to risk the disease (our dogwood has it), how about a crepe myrtle? Or as its name in Japanese translates, a Monkey Slips Down Tree.

My lilac bush that I planted last year is blooming!

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