Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A whole new world (of plants)

In my last post (whenever that was) I mentioned briefly that my parents bought a greenhouse kit. One of the many projects I'll be helping them with is setting that up. I'm extremely excited about this, although I am already exerting my willpower to not fill it to the brim with all my own plants. I'm trying very hard to remember that it is their greenhouse, not mine. I'll be going to grad school in a little over a year, so it wouldn't be practical for me to fill up the greenhouse with my own treasures and then run off, leaving my parents to care for them. Still, I can add a few things. They'll finally be able to reliably over-winter fuchsia baskets, so an 'Autumnale' fuchsia is near the top of my list for this season. The mandarin orange tree I grew from seed can spend winter in the greenhouse, as well as my hardier vireya rhododendrons, Agapetes, bromeliads, and a few other things I've accumulated that need only be kept above freezing. I don't think I'll be able to resist adding a few more tender shrubs, like grevilleas banksias, Desfontainia spinosa (though supposedly it's hardy to zone 8), leucodendrons, and the nearly-hardy gesneriads like Mitraria coccinea and Asteranthera ovata. Hmm, that list is already looking pretty long and space-consuming for an 8' x 10' greenhouse.

But something even more exciting than a greenhouse is coming to the garden, or rather around the garden. What could be more exciting than a greenhouse? That first sentence might have tipped you off. My parents are finally getting a fence! Around a much larger portion of the property than I ever would have thought, I might add. Close to half of the five-acre property is going to be surrounded by a six-foot, black (I think) chain-link fence. No, it's not enough to completely ensure a deer-free garden, but it will hopefully discourage enough. If not, the plan is to add something later to make the fence taller or more difficult to jump over. 

Finally, I'll be able to expand my plant palette beyond barberries, heaths and heathers, ornamental grasses, herbs, rhododendrons, and the few other plants I've found that are reliably deer-resistant. I have a lot of day-dreaming and drooling over online catalogs and gardening books to do. I'll be able to grow succulents, which the deer would always destroy by the end of a thirsty summer. Deciduous azaleas and hardy fuchsias will no longer be beyond my grasp. So many cool broad-leaf evergreens, both herbaceous and woody. So many great natives, like the full spectrum of hardy Ceanothus and Arctostaphylos, instead of just the ones with the smallest leaves (for the former) or most fuzzy (of the latter). I'm having a hard time even remembering all the fantastic plants I've given up on, or passed over before even buying, because I knew the deer would never leave them alone. Of course I won't be abandoning my deer-proof plants, either. I still love rhododendrons, but now I'll be able to grow some of the types with smaller, thinner leaves that the deer would sometimes strip. After my first few attempts at growing cistus, I'll definitely keep adding more. Epimediums are still a must. I still love heaths and heathers, although I think I'll scale back on those a bit and be pickier about what what stays or goes. Drought-tolerance was always the second-most important qualification. Without deer, it becomes the primary requirement, although rules are made to be broken.

The first step was to take down the rotting split-rail fence along the road. Held up by a few metal fence posts and the railings, the wooden posts aren't good for much except piling up somewhere for animal habitat. Most of the rails are still in good enough shape to use for something. One idea is to use some of them to build a support for the weeping blue Atlas cedar planted last summer. I think the naturally-aged wood will pair nicely with the blue of the cedar. 


The pictures above and below show a small part of the split-rail fence. As you can see in the photo below, it runs along the road for a few hundred feet. For the most part, it came apart fairly easily with a sledge hammer. Demolition is always so satisfying.


The fence is completely down now, and the ground has been cleared to install the new fence. I can't wait for the new fence to go up. I'm going to celebrate by taking all the ugly cages off of the trees I planted last year, the Penstemon rupicola and P. davidsonii, and anything else that's had to cower behind a cage all these years. Then I'm going to go out and start buying all the cool plants I thought I'd never be able to grow (within the limits of my rather small budget, at least).

17 comments:

  1. I'm so excited to read about the fence! More even than about the greenhouse. There's a whole new world of plants to explore.

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    1. Me, too! I was so surprised when I heard the news!

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  2. Oh dear, this means we can no longer commiserate about the deer. I'm sure your parents would agree that you have earned a goodly chunk of the new greenhouse.

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    1. I'm sure they'll still get in occasionally. I'm very skeptical as to how much a six foot fence will deter them, though I'm willing to hope. My mother asked only for me to leave a corner for them to grow salad greens over the winter. :)

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  3. Finally, someone else lustful for the Coronantheroid Gesneriads! Although A. ovata has been prone to die on me... Sarmienta scandens is a bit more of a survivor.

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    1. Yes! Though i've yet to grow them. I wish I lived nearer to the coast where the milder temps and summer mists would make it feasible to grow them outside. I'm afraid summers for me are too hot and dry and winter is too cold.

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    2. Do you have any swales? If you can grow Oplopanax horridus and company, you might be able to work with at least the Mitraria (although that has frozen out for me, southeast of Seattle).

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    3. I might have a couple spots moist enough for Oplopanax horridus, but I wouldn't call them swales.

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  4. New fence equals safe haven for new plants, yay!

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    1. Yes! So excited! I just had to chase 3 deer out of a bed this morning. Looking forward to not having to worry about that anymore.

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  5. That's wonderful news! I am in awe of those that successfully garden with deer nearby, hopefully they'll be only a bad memory for you soon.

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  6. I would so love a greenhouse (even if they are far from a necessity in SoCal)! The fence is great news too, as our your plans for grad school.

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    1. Thanks, Kris. I'm excited for all three!

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  7. Wow! No more four legged slugs to eat and trample your garden! Very exciting news indeed. That's some list for the greenhouse. They fill up so quickly!

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    1. Yes! And I'll probably take up my share just with the plants I already have.

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