Today, because the temperature is mild, and because spring is such a fleeting season, I think we should steal a few minutes out of doors. Would you like to see the trees, shrubs, and perennials that are presently blooming here at Clover Hill? Slip into some black stilettos and take a happy walk with me:
Before we head outside, let me offer you something to drink. Today’s spécialité de la maison is a martini. Well, I call it “a martini,” but it’s actually nothing more than ice-cold Bombay Sapphire gin plus a few Spanish olives. The olives are there so you won’t starve to death.
And away we go…
We are standing in the boxwood garden now, where a pair of ‘Red Jade’ crab-apple trees are strutting their blooms. The variety is named for the tree’s flowers, which start out pink and then fade to white.
A close-up of Red Jade’s blossoms.
Heading north, as we exit the boxwood garden, we bump into the large trunk of a silver-leaved maple. The tree is at least 100 years old.
To the right of the tree, and blooming in a bed of pachysandra, are purple tulips and pink dicentra (a/k/a “Bleeding Hearts”).
Among springtime flowers, dicentra is my undeniable favorite.
Shall we ascend the blue stone path that leads to a trio of white pine trees?
We are looking west now, through an opening in the pines. The blue stone staircase on the right leads to the pool garden. We’ll visit that garden in July, after the water warms to skinny-dipping temperature.
May I top-off your drink?
To our right, and just past the pines, is a long, tall row of arborvitae. The hedge is all a-twitter now with nesting birds.
And speaking of noisy birds…
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To our left is Malus ‘Sops of Wine.’ It’s an heirloom apple tree that has zero resistance to insects. Since I refuse to spray the tree with pesticides, I get only one edible apple per season. But that apple is entirely organic, and absolutely delicious.
Also to our left is a 6-year-old ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud. This Cercis canadensis flaunts purple flowers in spring, and plum-colored foliage in summer. It makes a terrific focal point on the hillside.
Here’s an intimate look at Forest Pansy’s purple clusters.
At the end of the arborvitae row is Viburnum ‘Cayuga.’ Please inhale deeply. Cayuga’s white puffs exhale a scent that is strong and sweet but never cloying.
To the left of the Viburnum is the Kitchen Garden, and beyond that, the Woodland Garden. I’ve planted exactly nothing in the former, while the latter requires its own special tour.
So let’s head down the hill to the little Herb Garden. Actually, the herb garden isn’t particular interesting just now. So let’s head over to the Serpentine Garden.
Garden, garden, garden.
I designed the Serpentine on the site of a very steep slope (details here). To the left of its entrance is Flowering Quince ‘Cameo.’ The orange-y blossoms are fully double.
On the stone wall beside the shrub are some of my winter-sowing containers. I’ll lift the lid from one container just to show you its contents.
Ah, Lupine seedlings. These emerged from seeds I planted in January, and then placed outside in the snow and cold. Winter-sowing is a remarkable method of seed germination. Details here.
The Serpentine’s entrance is marked by a pair of urns. Let’s ascend the steps of this garden.
On the second terrace, a dwarf crab-apple tree –Malus ‘Sargent’ is its name — blooms above a bed of Vinca minor. To my inebriated eyes, the blue blossoms of the vinca and the white of the crab-apple make a stunning spring still-life.
Here’s a personal glimpse of Vinca minor’s sky-blue offerings.
At the mid-way point in the Serpentine Garden is a cement bench. Do sit down, my dear. Those stilettos must be killing you. You, on the other hand, are killing it in those stilettos!
Our view from the bench. Tumbling over the wall of the top terrace are blue and pink varieties of Phlox subulata. And above the phlox, but not yet in bloom, is a hedge of dwarf lilac ‘Palibin.’
We might as well linger on the bench for a spell. And as we slurp our gin and nibble our olives, perhaps you can tell me what’s blooming now in your own planted place.
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