|This sling would go under the
root ball to lift the tree.
|Cercis canadensis ‘Covey’
|The variegated pine needles|
|All done! I think it looks
pretty good, don’t you?
The day started off as a day like any other; it was clear and nice as we began our horticultural duties. Carrington Flatness, another intern on the horticulture staff, took a turn at the Toro Dingo, a walk-behind skid-steer machine, and carried an Eastern redbud up to the great lawn. Once there, Rodney came out and showed Montana Williams (another intern), Carrington, and me how to measure and plant a ball-and-burlap tree. In the process of digging out the grasses to make room for the redbud, one of us cut the irrigation line! This was just the start of our misfortunes during this day. I’m about to tell you all about how not to plant a large ball-and-burlap pine. For those of you who don’t know, a ball-and-burlap tree is a tree that has been grown in a field nursery row, dug up with the soil intact, and then wrapped with burlap and tied with twine.
The next day, with Rodney’s help, we were able to get the sling around the variegated pine’s root ball and attach it to the Dingo, where we could then lift it and excavate underneath to lower the hole in which the roots would be buried. It was now a simple process to lower the pine back into the hole and then pack in the soil around it. The pine was in and straight! We stood back and looked at our accomplishment. Although the tree was in, we had managed to destroy some of the patch of evening primrose sundrops (Oenothera). We evened out what was left of the patch and mulched around our pine. Although it took much more effort than it should have, I think it turned out okay and the variegated pine will look lovely in its chosen spot. Although the mistake made for a difficult and interesting day, I learned a lot about planting ball-and-burlap trees and will not make those mistakes again. So, when planting a very heavy ball-and-burlap pine tree, never cut anything until your tree is in the hole, never drop the tree, use a sling if possible, and always have someone there who will be able to creatively help if you make a mistake.
Our guests who live away from New England probably heard quite a bit about Winter Storm Nemo last weekend. Let me tell you, it was something else. Being from the South, I have lived through several tropical storms and a couple of hurricanes. Nemo was like a wicked tropical storm with snow. It just kept going and going, much like the fictional Nemo swam through the ocean.
For those of us who live here, we were delighted that this past week brought warmer temperatures and, more importantly, longer days. We are really seeing the effects of more daylight, as our early-spring flowering woody plants have swollen buds. In fact, if you follow our Facebook page, you might have seen the pictures of the witchhazels in flower.
Justin took advantage of this warmer weather to get out and perform structural pruning on the apple trees between the Café Terrace and the Children’s Garden. This time of year allows him to see the structure of the trees and perform the vital cuts to promote good structure and redirect growth.
Our Senior Horticulturalist, Dick Zieg, has been feverishly looking through plant catalogs the past couple of weeks searching for new plants and ideas to enhance the gardens of the Cleaver Event Lawn and Garden. This is the area that surrounds the open panel of turf above the Lerner Garden of the Five Senses.
Dick is the primary gardener for this area and he wanted to provide some new horticultural displays for 2013. A month ago, I sent him some images of the mixed borders at Great Dixter in East Sussex, England; and this lit a fuse with Dick. He has picked out a nice array of new plants to mix into the existing plantings. Just a sampling of new plants he has picked out includes Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette,’ Hibiscus ‘Pink Elephant,’ and Clematis ‘Wildfire.’
Be sure to walk around the gardens surrounding the Cleaver Event Lawn this summer and see all of Dick’s improvements. – Rodney
Images by: Dick Zieg, Rodney Eason, Sugarcreek Gardens, Sooner Plant Farm, and ornamental-trees.co.uk
Throughout the winter, we thought it would be great to share with all of our visitors what we do once the perennials are dormant and Jack Frost moves into his winter home on the Boothbay peninsula. This is the first of weekly updates showing you some of the improvements we have on the boards in the Gardens. Hopefully, when you and spring come back to the Gardens, you will be able to notice the fruits of our labors.
The first update is about Justin’s trail improvement work down along the Back River. Thanks to a grant from the Fields Pond Foundation, Justin is able to continue improving the trails on the Gardens’ property. He was also able to attend a workshop on best management practices for trail building this fall, which was coordinated and taught by the Maine Forest Service. He is using knowledge and techniques gained from this workshop directly on the trail improvement.
Justin is focusing our trail improvements on the Huckleberry Cove Trail. This trail runs south along the shoreline of the Back River from the Vayo Meditation Garden along the gorgeous ledge outcrop. If you have yet to walk down this trail, be sure to check it out this spring. When the trail was initially constructed, a layer of landscape fabric was used under the walkway mulch. Over time, we noticed that the fabric did not provide a rough enough surface for the mulch to “grab” onto. The walkway appeared that it was cracking in places, and in other locations you could even see the black landscape fabric.
What Justin did this past week was to initially scrape away the top layer of walkway mulch. Then he pulled away the landscape fabric, which we are hoping to reuse in other areas of the property. Justin is using smaller equipment and hand tools to create as little impact on the surrounding forest as possible. The mulch is scraped back by using a compact, track loader called a Toro Dingo (see above). By using a loader on tracks, the weight of the machine is spread out over a greater surface area, which causes less disturbance and compaction. Justin is hauling excess material out of the trail area with a small Kubota all-terrain vehicle. If you have been to the Gardens, you probably have noticed our staff moving about in these useful machines.
If Justin gets near a tree root, he parks the Dingo and finishes the excavation using a shovel and rake. It can be hard work, but Justin loves the fact that it keeps him warm on these colder days.
Next week, Justin will begin resurfacing the pathway with a walkway mulch we use called Superhumus. I will provide an update on the resurfacing next week. – Rodney