Tuesday, September 10, 2019

New Beginnings

Remember back in 2016 when I was so optimistic about our move to the north? I thought we'd have a new property and have the business moved by spring 2017. Life has a way of not working out how you'd like. It's been 3 1/2 years, but we finally closed on a house 2 weeks ago in Antigo, WI! I now have 12 acres of trees and prairie and an old farmhouse. 

We have most of the plants moved up here from the nursery now. We still need to move the poly house, benches, equipment, etc. I don't know if I'll get the house put back up this fall, but we do have a shed that's suitable for plant storage. This shed will become our retail building in the near future. We may have some limited open days as soon as next year!

It's been a struggle having room for my personal collection AND stock for sale at the nursery. A focus this fall is getting plants in the ground so I don't have to deal with shifting things around to make room for new product. Today I put in the first garden bed. It's a small bed bordering one side of our back deck and patio. 

I started by cutting an edge and then manually removing the sod. Our soil here is nice loam and removing sod is fairly easy. I'm not opposed to using some glyphosate in larger areas with difficult to control plants (I have many such areas!) but manual removal is still the fastest way. 

There were some existing Hosta 'Francee' that I've removed. They were likely from a box store and there's a good chance they're infected with Hosta Virus X, even though they don't show symptoms at this time. They will be disposed of and this bed consists mainly of non hostas. I also removed those keystone blocks and properly graded the area so they aren't needed.

With everything removed and graded, it was time for plant selection. This area gets late afternoon sun, so it's suitable for an assortment of neat shade plants. It's also one of the more protected sites here so it was perfect for Enkianthus campanulatus and Clethra alnifolia 'Crystalina'. I'm really not sure how well the Enkianthus will do here, but I'm hoping it will survive. The Clethra should do ok. I also chose only two Hosta for this area, 'Frisian Pride' and 'Foxfire Irish Moon'. They'll provide some nice texture and color contrast to the plants around them. There are 10 seedlings from my Heuchera breeding program. 9 are crosses of 'Berry Timeless' x 'Stainless Steel' and one is a yellow 'Southern Comfort' x 'Stainless Steel' (this one may get moved into a bed with all of its siblings). I also included 'Berry Timeless' and 'Stainless Steel' in this bed for comparison. Other plants in this bed include: Astilbe 'Amber Moon', Astilbe 'Chocolate Shogun', Cimicifuga simplex 'Black Negligee', Iris tectorum ex. 'Slippery Slope', Carex platyphylla, Salvia koyamae, Geranium 'Phillipe Vapelle', Carex muskingumensis 'Oehme', Atractylodes ovata, Epimedium 'Spine Tingler', Eurybia divaricata 'Eastern Star', Athyrium niponicum 'Applecourt' and a spot is being saved for Athyrium niponicum 'Crested Surf'.

An important note about planting here. I'm fortunate that we have good soil. I don't intend to do any kind of amendment here. I'm also making sure to root wash all of my trees and shrubs and at least remove most of the soil from my perennials. My plants have been in containers far too long and It's important to fix any root issues that may be present. For trees and shrubs, this means removing all soil, pruning out any girdling roots, and making sure all the roots are laid out straight away from the plant. For perennials, I'm able to shake out most of the soil and do the same thing without aggressively washing them. I'm also able to see any pest or disease issues that may be present this way. I highly encourage you all to do this! 

I have many, MANY, more plants to get in the ground. I'll be updating more frequently now that I have a place to garden! I also have a whole lot of other projects in store, including a gradual prairie restoration and re-building a retaining wall. Expect more regular (but still intermittent!) blog posts.