Here is an example, a picture from last fall:
|late October, 2010: a sea of islands|
This spring we dug up some lawn bisecting this area, in a winding, sinewy river of a border that will eventually become a shrub "wall" to enclose a secret garden space in the foreground, surrounded by existing borders. A stepping stone path will wander through it and out into the garden by the birch trees, thereby tying the spaces together. I hope.
Here it is with the bones of the new garden dug out:
|this spring, the beginning of a new garden|
Please do not chortle at the awkward curves. As I confessed in my interview post, I cannot create pleasing curves in a border garden. I don't know why, but I can't, and the plant choices I put in will have to disguise this deficiency.
The plant choices! What fun to shop for an entire border of new plants.
And what frustration if you want anything pretty that is native.
Some choices for a shrub border were easy: I got three nice Fothergilla 'Mt. Airy' plants that will be large and woodsy looking, with beautiful spring blossoms and great fall color. I got evergreen inkberry hollies to flank the stepping stone entrance out into the yard and to the birch trees. And I will transplant some other things, and tuck some perennials in around everything.
But the one plant I want for the focal point on the extreme left is not so easy. I want a Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia).
|Cornus alternifolia from Oregon State|
When I asked at one high end nursery I was told "we don't carry it because no one knows what it is." Okay, but I know what it is. "Sorry, we just can't sell plants that informed gardeners know about, only the ones that uninformed homeowners have seen in other peoples' yards." This is your marketing strategy? The nursery manager cheerfully declined to try to find one for me.
At another high end nursery my name was put on a list with a promise to call if they ever find a source for this plant. The book with the names and contact numbers was stuffed full and scraps of paper were falling out on the floor; my hope of getting a positive call back is possibly nil.
A call to Bartlett Tree Experts asking to locate this tree and plant it for a hefty fee went unanswered.
With all of the focus on planting native, wildlife-friendly plants, why is the non-native Kousa Dogwood, so big and rangy and way too large for most yards, the only choice in local stores?
Why is the small, elegant, horizontally-branched bird-enticing berry producing Pagoda Dogwood a plant that no one can figure out how to sell locally? It's easily propagated from seed, it's gorgeous, it's small enough for the suburban garden. What exactly are the liabilities to selling this?
Gardeners are urged to go native and buy locally. Yeah, right.