|The shrub bed, otherwise known as 'Long Island' on May 21, 2012|
The shrub bed at the front of our property was our first ‘big’ project. It was a broad expanse of grass in 1999 – twenty feet deep and more than a hundred feet in length, with a small copse of trees for a backdrop. We decided that shrubs – with different color and textures – would make a more attractive impression from the street.
Using a rototiller, we began turning over the soil and quickly found that the builder had placed an inch or two of loam over what can only be described as ‘crud’ – dirt with no organics to speak of and rocks of every size. Over the course of a year of often back-breaking work, we created soil and built a very impressive stone fence from the rocks we excavated.
The shrub bed – formally known as Long Island because its shape – is now mature and low-maintenance. We removed a Norway maple (see ‘Adjo, Acer Plantanoides’) three years ago which brought increased light into the site. Each spring, we add a fresh inch of mulch, we keep shrubs in shape through aggressive trimming, and then we sit back and enjoy the results.
|Wigela 'Wine and Roses'|
We see the first blooms in February when a witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) produces its pale yellow flowers, and a spirea ‘Ogon Mellow Yellow’ puts of a burst of white flowers at the end of March, but the real explosion comes at the end of May. This weekend, the bed was in its full glory.
There are three wigelas, one of them a ‘Pink Princess’ that dates to 1999, and two more recently planted ‘Wine and Roses’. All three are blooming brightly. Another original tenant, a smokebush (Cotinus coggyria ‘Royal Purple’) is in full regalia. A third old-timer, Calycanthus (Carolina sweetshrub or spicebush), produces a long-lasting but subdued cinnamon-colored flower that is also lightly scented.
|Physocarpus opulifolius 'Dart's Gold'|
in full bloom
|Potentilla 'Abbotswood' and Duetzia|
gracilis 'Nana' in bloom
|Scotch broom with the rock wall|