I received the new Fairweather Gardens catalog (www.fairweathergardens.com), and am now happily planning my fall planting spree. I’m looking forward to building out the new border by the stream. It’s a long bed and has both sunny and shady areas, so I get to experiment quite a bit. For this fall, I am adding late-blooming asters (Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’), an 18 inch dwarf variety with blue flowers, plus some Big Brother fern (Deparia pycnosora) which forms a mat and should help control the erosion of the bank. I’m also adding a Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis ‘Sputnik’) at the base of the slope, again to help with the erosion problem. The Buttonbush will like the wet conditions at the stream bed, and I’m hoping it can tolerate the heavy shade in that area.
The crown jewel, however, will be the Hamamelis vernalis ‘Girard’s Purple’ witch hazel. I’m planting this one in honor of Frank, to remind me that beautiful things flower even in winter. I’ve been wanting o plant a witch hazel for a few years now, especially after learning more about them in my Shrubs class at Longwood Gardens. This is a new, purple-flowering variety; I chose it because it won’t get too tall. Best of all, Fairweather has an open house day on September 11, Frank’s birthday, so I will pick it up directly at the nursery and plant it that same day.