A couple of neighbors and friends of the garden club have pointed out that we have had a number of cases of oak wilt in the area. For a little more info on this disease, please see Sandy Feather's recent column in the Post-Gazette.
We installed a few more items at Collins today, and it occurred to me that I should post a plant list for all of our corners on the blog, so I am in the process of compiling that now. If you have any questions in the meantime, just post them here. Thanks!
Remember that there is a lot more we'll be doing, but here's a little preliminary before and after for you, using the new plants we bought and without the sheared shrubs we removed:
At last year's auction, we talked about how gratifying it is to see little "cousins"--slips and cuttings of our neighbors' plants we bought at the auction--doing well in our gardens. Well I have certainly had that experience time and again, and this year offered club members and friends the opportunity to share the dozens of seedling rudbeckias that showed up on the Old Gate corners after the auction.
If you're one who took some seedlings from the Huguley driveway today and planted them, how about taking some pictures of them later in the season along with other plants you may have bought at the auction? It would be great to have a "family reunion" photo gallery on our website!
Please send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll post 'em!
Mike cutting down the sheared euonymus and yews.
Soon I will be on my way to pick up my purchases from the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden plant sale, but I stopped to meet with Mike from Fossick's Landscaping about the shrub removal. He'll be at Collins most of the morning cutting down the old shrubs, and hauling them to AgRecycle, and repeating the process. I have more pix I'll post in our photos section later today, but I wanted to give everyone a heads-up. You can see how the interior of the sheared euonymus looks like the one in the video I posted below about shearing v. pruning.
Also, let me pass along a tip from our Webby Girl, Amy, and our BGC Prez, Nancy: Groupon deal today for half off a purchase at the Urban Gardener!
Blackridge Garden Club Members and Friends: Last year on the Old Gate Road/William Penn Highway Bloomin' Corners, we had a lovely display of three different rudbeckia--Tiger's Eye, Double Hirta, and Prarie Sun (with a beautiful green eye). Many of you received a packet of seeds from these flowers at the February meeting. If you planted yours and they came up, as mine did, you may have no need for additional seedlings. But if you'd like to coax some small seedlings to new life, there will be lots available in the Huguley driveway: 1036 Old Gate Road onSunday, May 22.
The plants have reseeded themselves on the corners and must be weeded out. We don't want to pitch them. These plants grow to be 24-30" in height and 24-30" in width with 3-4" blossoms. If you'd like to have some, come by and help yourself. Above are some picture of the Tiger Eye.
They really needed their Wheaties today!
As I've mentioned, members of the corners committee selected some trees and shrubs from Chapon's last week, and today they arrived! The delivery guys earned their pay unloading some extremely heavy root balls from the truck, with only one casualty--a branch from one of the 'Millky Way' dogwoods:( I am hoping CODIT will be in full force! I've posted some pix here, and will add to them when Fossick's crew removes some of the current plantings and installs these items.
For many years, the BGC has maintained our signature Blackridge corners utilizing primarily heavily sheared yews and euonymus. We are moving towards a more sustainable paradigm, and as a result, have removed all of the sheared shrubs except for the ones remaining at the Collins Road corners and the BCA corners, and those will be eventually replaced, as well.
I know that folks have enjoyed the symmetry and formal look of the sheared plants, and I also know that a more naturalistic look will take some getting used to, but we are committed to making the corners look beautiful while making them sustainable. As a small and shrinking non-profit, we can't afford to make all of the changes at once, but we are looking at it like we look as raising our children--we want to give them the ability to make it on their own when we aren't there to take care of them. (Eventually, we won't have anyone left in the club who is able to lug water to the corners like Ma Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie.)
To provide consistency, we have selected some of the same plants, like Euonymus alata 'Compacta' or burning bush, that had been used on the corners as sheared hedges, but are now using them in their natural form, and will prune them selectively as needed, but will not shear them. Don't worry; if Versailles is on one end of the spectrum and Fallingwater is at the other, we are probably more Louis XIV than Frank Lloyd Wright.
I have listed a link below to a good article from Plant Amnesty that describes some of the problems with shearing shrubs, and I've posted a very short video from One Garden At A Time. (Nancy and I met the lady at the WPa Gardening Symposium two weeks ago!)
Plant Amnesty article on "Shear Madness: http://www.plantamnesty.org/shearmadness.htm
The plant we selected as the secondary focal point for the Collins Road corners is a hinoki falsecypress, designated by Phipps Conservatory as a top sustanable plant. We chose the 'Gracilis Compacta' cultivar, which is semi-dwarf, so should reach 8-10 feet in height, and has excellent fan-like leaves. The plant is relatively disease free and should be tolerant of the sunny exposure along Graham. It has a pyramidal, slightly irregular growth habit, which makes it a good choice as a specimen plant. The current plantings on the corner are mainly sheared yews (evergreen) and sheared euonymus (deciduous), and we want to make sure that our replacements represent both evergreens (the falsecypress, some boxwoods I'll address in another blog entry, and some additional plants to come, as well as deciduous shrubs/trees (the dogwood I described below). We can't afford to replace everything at once, so we have having our landscaper, Tom Fossick, remove most of the sheared shrubs this month, and install the new items we purchased. We are preserving all of the non-sheared shrubs and perennials at the corners (sand cherries, dwarf Alberta spruce, magnolias, Russian sage, daffodils), and, for the present, the yew hedges directly behind the stone seating. We plan to add a few more evergreens in the fall, as well as some native oakleaf hydrangeas. I'll keep you posted here. Please give us your feedback.
Author, Judy Diorio
Judy's Blog is written by Blackridge's gardener-in-residence, Judy Diorio. Judy has lived in Blackridge for 25 years, and writes the BGC's "In The Garden" column for the Blackboard. She has studied horticulture and landscape design and is currently preparing to be a Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturist.
Allegheny Co Extension--Hort
Arboretum at Penn State
Audubon Soc of Western Pa
Birds and Blooms
Longue Vue Gardens
NYT--Gardeners and Gardening
Organic Gardening Magazine
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
Pittsburgh Botanic Garden
Post-Gazette--Home & Garden
Royal Botanical Gardens
ScienceDaily--Plants & Animals
US National Arboretum
Western PA Conservancy
Wildlife Resource Council