I trust you all had a very pleasant Thanksgiving holiday last week and I presume most of you have traditions that have been passed down through the generations and have morphed as families split and merge.
One tradition that remains very popular with most of the folks I know involves family and friends getting together for the big Thanksgiving meal. In our family, the host will provide the turkey and dressing and a side dish or two, while the guests will bring a favorite side dish or dessert. I must say, I was quite pleased with all the fixin’s at the table this year.
First and foremost, is the ‘Butter Ball’ turkey which roasted slowly in the oven. One guest was feeling adventurous and wanted to cook a ‘Rhode Island Red’ with the rotisserie grill on the patio, which worked out quite well since we had a very nice ‘Sherwood Flame.’ Since the grill was going, another guest insisted upon adding a ‘Blue Snake’ to the menu, and I was just happy that he had removed all of its ‘Blue Feathers’ before serving. By this time, I decided that it was time for something to drink and I added a ‘Lemon Twist’ for good flavor.
Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just a week away? It’s nearing the end of November, and there is so much to do in my garden before winter really does set in. The leaves are very nearly all off of my trees and spread all over my driveway and in and around my garden. Then the pouring rain made sure to pound the leaves into clumps and mats on my smaller conifers – in some cases completely burying them in wet leaves. Thankfully today, though dark gray with clouds, is dryer than yesterday so I should be able to uncover my little treasures setting them free to breathe again.
All it takes is a little time, energy and finesse to delicately remove the offending fallen leaves in such a way as not to break any little branches on my miniature conifers. I can usually pull the leaves off of my larger plants or even give them a brisk shake to set them free from the invading maple, birch, dogwood or other leaves that just days ago were providing a wondrous display of color. By next spring these leaves will be well on their way to becoming compost to spread in the garden next summer.
Juniperus horizontalis ‘Gold Strike’ is one of my newer conifer additions this year. Like its parent, ‘Mother Lode,’ ‘Gold Strike’ is an absolutely striking, bright golden yellow color. This time of year I need all the bright sunny color I can get, and ‘Gold Strike’ is one of the best yellow groundcovers you will find for the garden. Pulling away the fallen leaves from this plant was like opening the draperies on a sunny summer morning – its bright golden tones warmed me right up. It won’t be too much longer though, and ‘Gold Strike’ will begin to change into its winter colors of pinkish plum, orange and gold.
One of the beauties of conifers is their year-round appeal – the fact that they provide color and structure and texture in the garden all year long with very little fuss. I love my conifers. I hope you love yours too.
Last night, as my wife was enjoying the dancing styles of Donny, Mya and Kelly, I was sitting next to the woodstove with a warm herbal tea and a pile of conifer catalogs that I have accumulated over the past few years. My catalog collection is of great value to me. Full of plant photos and descriptions, my notes written in the margins of the pages, plants circled and starred, I’ve turned my collection of catalogs into an analog version of my own personal plant Wikipedia.
Even though the economy is a challenge, and like many people I’ve needed to tighten my budget and cut back on frivolous spending, I have made sure that I have a New Conifer section in the budget plan. I am thankful that my wife has always been very patient with my conifer expenditures since, after all, my hobby does keep me close to home and we do love to garden together.
I’m thankful that we live in a country with a rich history of freedom with a Constitution and Bill of Rights to guide our leaders. I’m thankful that we have a strong military filled with young, dedicated men and women willing to risk their lives so that I may enjoy those freedoms. I’m thankful for my family and friends and hope that my garden may inspire them to begin their own conifer gardens. I am thankful for the friends I am making as a result of this blog – may it be a positive and uplifting experience for my readers and may your gardens be a source of great joy for you and yours in the many years to come.
As I sit in the warm sunshine beaming in through my window, I am marveling at the length of this year’s autumn color display. Even as the Japanese maples and other companion plants come to the end of the season with their last gasps of great color, my conifers stand firm to fill the landscape this winter.
One of the last of my maples to put on its color, Acer palmatum ‘Shishigashira,’ is looking fantastic right now with the morning sun highlighting its orange leaves. Other companion plants that are particularly bright right now, even just days before they shed the last remnants of leaves are, Berberis thunbergii ‘Concorde,’ and ‘Rosy Glow.’ Both of these plants add great color to my conifer garden in spring and summer and with their last shout of color in the fall.
It is an incredible joy to watch the garden’s appearance change so dramatically as the deciduous plants shed their leaves and open up vistas of the garden giving it a totally different look this time of year. Thankfully, the conifers are still there in all of their colorful and textural glory. It’s so fun to see the various shapes from low, flat ground covers to the globe shaped mounds and pyramidal forms all in blue, green and gold through and amongst the silhouettes of assorted deciduous trees and shrubs.
I am so thankful my small garden provides a healthy habitat for the wild critters and a peaceful place for me to reflect on the many wonders of life in general. I hope that you all have time consider all that you have to be thankful for this year.