November 9 at Meadowbrook

I’m sharing some autumn pictures of a few of the interesting shrub and tree plantings at Meadowbrook, my Pennsylvania farm, just before the season ended (and leaves went “WHUNK!” to the ground) with a cold snap. These are plants in my windbreak and shrub border along the west and north sides of the property. I started the spruce windbreak with 2 foot tall spruces back in 2007 to cut the  wintry gusts pouring down from the higher lands to the west. In the last two years, the growth has been exponential. There are Serbian, White, Blue and Black spruces comprising the main coniferous border. I have had an expensive learning process in adding to my border. Areas that are summer-dry are soggy with standing water for long periods in the spring. As a result, I lost several blue spruces and a good number of shrubs like lilacs that do not appreciate standing water. I have replaced some spruce with Bald Cypress which has done very well in that situation. At this point, all of the shrubs and deciduous trees in the most problematic portions of the border can handle wet soils–Aronia, Elderberries, Hazelnuts, Curly Willow and Pussywillows, Virginia Sweetspire, certain Viburnums, Sour Gum, Snowberry, Winterberry, Clethra and specific Dogwood species.  There is also an inner border of blueberries, varieties that are early, mid and late bearing.

Aside from serving as a windbreak planted three rows deep on the west and two deep on the north, my most important consideration has been to achieve a four season interest through the mix-either through colorful bark or branching, clusters of flowers and colorful foliage in spring or fall. I’d like to find something with pink or orange-y fall foliage next. Most importantly, the border provides food for birds and mammals by producing berries and nuts, nesting sites and winter shelter in the spruces (and eventually in the Techny Arborvitae which are still quite small).

I hope that others will share their garden projects with us here on the blog.