This past winter was brutal and the plants in the yard paid the price. The final tally included a dawn redwood, all the butterfly bushes, a rudbeckia, and thanks to some unidentified animal using its bark as a chew toy one yellow poplar/tulip tree. One of the lilac bushes near the compost bins was also severely denuded when spring came around making me wonder if it was going to be added to the casualty list.
The easiest replacement was the yellow poplar/tulip tree. It’s a great tree for the landscape, not over planted like a lot of maples, and with two other yellow poplars in that part of the yard it forms a nice triple planting.
The problem is that that I have lost a couple of season’s worth of growth and the replacement looks a little undersized:
Little guy is included for height reference and to witness the joy of gardening. I am hoping that the difference in height will be less noticeable as the trees mature.
The loss of the dawn redwood vexed me. I love that species of tree and I was really hoping that it would add a lot of interest to the yard because it was such an unusual specimen. Remember, I live in a neighborhood where people plant autumn blaze maples and Bradford pears. I would estimate that three-quarters or more of the trees are of those two types. God forbid that there is ever a Dutch elm disease-like outbreak that targets autumn blaze maples because neighborhoods in eastern Iowa would be deforested in no time.
However, I was concerned that the harsh winter—although somewhat more in line with what pre-climate change winters were like on occasion—was the culprit in killing the dawn redwood. I did not want to replace the tree every few seasons because the mercury dipped into the negative teens.
The solution presented itself in a London planetree:
This particular tree is believed to be a hybrid of a plane tree and a sycamore. Possessing the traits of the sycamore was of interest because sycamores are native to my neck of the woods. Plus, as a tree that is adapted to bottomlands it would stand up well to the intermittent standing water that collects during heavy spring rains. Or the rains that have inundated us here in June. The London planetree is a vigorous growing species and it is highly tolerant of difficult urban conditions like heat and pollution. Neither are a major concern in my suburban backyard, but it is comforting to know that this is a hardy tree.
The butterfly bushes are not going to be replaced because that spot in the garden is going to be reserved for hops come spring 2015. I have the plans for a trellis in the workshop and should put something in the ground by early fall.
Oh, and the lilac? It’s making a fairly remarkable recovery:
And the grass? Do not even get me started on the grass. With no fertilizer, lots of rain, and lots of sun when there is no rain the grass is growing like a weed. How so? I need to mow every four days to keep it from looking too shaggy. Granted, part of that is because I mow my lawn at the highest setting. But still…