Yesterday, Tom Fossick and his crew planned to meet Nancy and me at the BCA corners so that we could show them where to plant the screening arborvitae ('Emerald Green' and "Georgia Peabody') we'd purchased. They'd removed the above-ground portion of the old oversheared (but reliable!) yews on the low side of the corners last spring, and now had to remove the root stumps to be able to plant the new shrubs. The topography of the area makes using a mechanical stump remover or a chain unsafe, so removing them manually was the only choice. HOLY MOLY! The diameter of the root stumps was literally as large as medium-sized tree trunks, and many of the stumps were still surrounded by wire baskets of a gauge that hasn't been used for many decades. Dave and Jesse had been digging for about 3 1/2 hours when I arrived at the corners at 10:30 AM, and they, plus Jimmy and JR were still at it when we left around 4:00 PM. Two other crew members finished the plantings on the high side, while Nancy and I cut off the tops of two yews, which were in the way of a couple of the Georgia Peabodys. We plan to let those roots die a natural death.
Nancy and I spent some time today installing that second Pinky Winky (finally found one in Zelienople) at Collins and we also moved some Russian sage from McNary (Have you noticed how gorgeous the Pinky Winky there is?) and from the north side of Collins to the south side of Collins--for some symmetry.
Our favorite digging of the day involved the plant shown at left:
Hydrangea macrophylla 'Lemon Daddy'
We planted it on the high side of Forest, and we think it is going to be beautiful there.
When we purchased the very large specimens of 'Milky Way' from Chapon's for the Collins corners, we knew they were stock from the previous season, and as a result, were stressed, but we figured we could baby them back to health. Towards that end, we have been regularly supplementing their water with rooting hormone, we have given them some nice compost, and some excellent organic fertilizer. When Mother Nature doesn't provide the water, volunteers from the garden club do.
It's almost July and it's a dry day--a perfect time to prune woody plants like our little dogwoods.
I went at them today, a little more conservatively than I would have if they had not been stressed. In other words, there are a few crossing branches and shoots from the base of the tree that I would have removed if I didn't want to preserve every leaf to do their important job of photosynthesis. I only removed dead or damaged wood, and opened up the center a little bit. I also found some long-dead ivy tendrils that were still strangling some of the upper branches, and removed all of those.
You can see from the bucket in the snapshot; 'Milky Way' is a twiggy bugger, so it took quite a while to work my way through those tiny twigs. (In Girl Scout parlance, it's all tinder, and no kindling or fuel.) Normally, I find pruning to be a very soothing experience--a perfectly literal decision tree from start to finish. I was feeling very Zen for the first couple of hours, and then I came to two conclusions: 1. My pruner is garbage, and I need a new one today. 2. I should have eaten breakfast before I started this project.
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:
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.
This is the idea.
As the outer corner focal points, we narrowed our Collins corners tree choice to Cornus kousa 'Milky Way.'
Milky Way dogwood has a height of about 20 feet, and a spread of about 15-20 feet, with a broad columnar shape, eventually widening at the crown to a more horizontal habit, and the specimens we selected branch low on their trunks. It features white flowers, red fruit, and dark green summer foliage which turns to a good wine color in the fall.
This cultivar was introduced by Wayside Gardens for the 2007 season. It was selected for its abundant, long-lasting, and showy blooms, followed by a heavy crop of large, attractive, strawberry-like fruits (loved by birds). It also features very ornamental bark. The vigorous tree flowers in June.
It is adaptable to full sun and most soils, and is resistant to many pests and diseases, including Anthracnose. While it requires moderately evenly moist soil, once it is established this spring in our clay soil, it should be tolerant of relatively dry summer conditions.
We've bought two trees from Chapon's today (plus 14 other shrubs--sadly we didn't get a discount. I hope they decide to do this in the future, either for garden clubs, and/or for Phipps members and/or for Botanic Garden members), which will be delivered next Friday, and installed by Blackridge's own Tom Fossick and his landscaping crew (412-377-2790 or 412-829-1812) shortly thereafter.
We can use some help schlepping water so that we give our new trees and shrubs a good start, so if you'd like to help, please let us know.
Today, I shot some snapshots of the wrecked corner at Forest Drive and Beulah Road, which I have posted here. It's destroyed, but at least the sign is still standing. Apparently, there were two auto accidents at that corner last weekend--one was because of the bad weather on Monday evening, February 21, and the other one was a DUI. The DUI is the one that caused the damage to the corner, and it occurred in the early morning hours of last Sunday, February 20.
We have the police report from Churchill Police Dept, and we are in the process of filing an insurance claim for the wall, the shrubs, the compost, and the installation of everything. I'll keep you posted.
On the bright side, I met a new (to me) neighbor who lives near the corner, and whose yard was also damaged in the wreck. Of course, I have already forgotten her name, but not her lovely smile, and I will ask her again for her name. Oy.
In the terrible weather last Monday night, someone unfortunately ran off Beulah Road, while turning into Blackridge, and wrecked into the lower side of our Forest Road corners, near our good friend's (the late Mr. Stewart's) home. The retaining wall behind the corner, which we just rebuilt late last summer, and a few new shrubs on that side--euonymus and Japanese hollies--were taken out. We sincerely hope that no one was injured in the accident, and we also hope to gather information so that we can recover funds to replace the destroyed property. If you have any information or comments, please post here. Our president is contacting the Churchill Police Dept on Monday morning, and we hope to have good news to report.
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