Dogwood Golden Shadows Image Spring MeadowsOh! The Possibilities

I am not sure if spring has finally arrived to remain in my garden, but it certainly seems to have stuck inside the gardener. Along with the spring green of buds in the trees and shrubs, the damaged foliage from freeze, I see and feel so many possibilities. Walking through my garden I am almost overwhelmed by the ‘what-ifs’.  What if I moved this over there? And then if I could locate another perennial to go with those two? Now that would really make a statement. I had to stop the strolling and come back to my office so I could begin to make notes on all the concepts crowding into my mind.

Opportunities Opening

My garden is old enough that the first trees I transplanted are now declining or dead. Of three dogwood only one has any life remaining. A dogwood cultivar “Wolf’s Eyes” probably passed away from my continual digging in its root system. A white pine reached maturity and then gave it’s all to the woodpeckers. Suddenly my shade garden is becoming no longer a shade garden. This is either a tragedy or an opportunity; possibly both.

Where a deceased dogwood once provided a focal point and shade for beds both beneath and down the hillside there is now new possibilities. I am a bit old to be transplanting trees reaching full size so I have selected Cornus alternifolia (Dogwood) ‘Golden Shadow’, a Pagoda dogwood reaching only 10 to 12 feet in height and canopy spread. This small tree has distinctive horizontal branching covered with variegated foliage. Each leaf is bright yellow with an emerald green center, overlays of pinkish tones on new growth. Now imagine the gold and green foliage laced with white blooms. Oh, and it is a cultivar of native dogwood.

The tree will get a location off center in the bed and will have companions transplanted at the same time.

Ladies Mantle
Image Monrovia


Having long admired Ladies Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) I finally have the perfect companions and excuse to bring it into my garden. At a local garden center I have on order ‘Thriller’ Ladies Mantle. This particular perennial is noted for its grey-green leaves, each one distinctly ruffled with toothed edges where drops of dew collect overnight. The leaf is indented from edge to stem so that as the dew accumulates gravity rolls the moisture to the center of the leaf forming large crystal droplets. Blooms are sprays of vivid golden-yellow sprays carried above the leaves in abundance. It is pretty assertive so I only need two of these.

Years ago I ordered Helleborus foetidus ‘Gold Bullion’ from Pine Knot Nursery. The unique hellebore had long narrow serrated leaves in gold with green bells for blooms. Unfortunately it only lasted two years in my garden and then disappeared. It must have been around long enough to play hanky-panky with the other hellebores for I now have seedlings popping up with golden foliage. One area has numerous little gold leaved seedlings. Two that stand out at this time are large enough to move to the new bed with the Ladies Mantle and dogwood.

Evergreen golden leaves with burgundy tinted stems reach about two feet in height and the same in spread. In mid-winter the bell shaped flowers will be on the same stem as the leaves and they will be in lime-green. I do believe those three plants will not only hold the space, they will have stage-presence.

If sufficient rooms shows itself there is the possibility (there is that word again) of adding two Hosta Rainbow’s End with its bright gold and green foliage.

There are notes on many more combinations for the spaces opening up in the garden as well as simply moving things around while I wait for the COVID-19 virus to make its exit so we can get to our garden centers in person.

A Gardener Grounded book, available in soft cover or ebook, is available to explore all the possibilities of gardening with physical limits.