Working in a retail environment, it is necessary to suspend desire for the objects one works with, as a precaution against returning one’s entire paycheck to the company each week. This is easy for me, as I don’t have a garden. However, one day this winter I spotted a Corylopsis in bud that was just beautiful, with perfectly arching silver branches and swollen, pale, pointed buds. This plant is so lovely in the cold season I would surely like to have it in my own garden, a thought which led me to generate this list of future garden must-haves. Oh, also I saw a little bronze rabbit statue that I wanted to take home. It was simple and slightly stylized; the bunny was standing up and sniffing, ears up in the friendly and curious bunny ‘hello’. I thought it would be perfect near my front door.
Winter hazel (Corylopsis)
Lily of the Valley
A tree with pale bark like a dwarf weeping birch or little grove of aspen.
Strawberries, June-bearing and alpine
Asters-like the ones Bertchels gave us, and ones with dark leaves like ‘Prince’ or ‘Lady in Black’
Clove currant- wonderful scent, and you can suck the nectar too
Unusual berries like Honeyberry, Seaberry, Chilean Guava
Orchard Fruits on dwarfing rootstock like Asian Pear, old fashioned Apples, Cherries, Plums
A rose or two, maybe one wild and one really decadent variety for cutting. And ‘Iceberg’. And maybe Rosa glauca and R. mutabilis
Lilies for bringing inside in vases
Helianthemum, sunrose (orange)
For annuals I would like moss roses and a few wild tropical things (Echium, Solanum, Ensata, etc.) to try each year.
Alliums- all different kinds
Lots and lots of spring bulbs, including purple tulips, white tulips, checker lily (obviously), snowdrops!, trout lilies, scilla.
For large trees, a Stewartia and or Persian Parrotia, or a large, craggy oak (Quercus macrocarpa or Q. garrya)
Spindletree, Elderberries, Sumac or other large shrubs that can be pruned up to form little groves under planted with woodland wildflowers and ferns.
Japanese Forest Grass, Toad lilies and Hellebores- all of which I tried very hard to grow in Minnesota, eventually (thanks to climate change or perseverance or my rigorous education??) with some success
Violets and clover, in the grass if possible
Persimmon or Mulberries
Verbascum- fancy peach colored ones and Verbena bonariensis
Lilac- really dark purple and the lavender ones
Annual herbs like dill, cilantro, basil, shiso, summer savory
Perennial herbs like sage, rosemary and lavender.
Giant feather grass-Stipa gigantea or another wild and fabulous grass, or a place to grow a stand of richly hued prairie grasses.
Joy pye weed and other things for butterflies
Jewelweed in a damp corner
Purple leaf ornamental grape
Prairie smoke- Geum triflorum
Japanese anemone- what a structural, elegant flower. So hardy, and it blooms in shade late in the season!
Cranesbill geranium- maybe G. phaem
Witch hazel- for winter blooms that smell of rust, carrots, lily, fresh sweetness
Wild Iris like I. tenax or I. cristata
Soft, shade tolerant conifers Russian cypress, Yew or Hemlock
A tree with silver leaves like Olive, ornamental weeping pear or Eleagnus
A few troughs with alpine plants
Looking at my list, most of the things can be eaten, and nearly all were things that grew in my parents or grandparent’s backyards when I was growing up. A lot of them are ‘immigrant’ plants, old-fashioned things that you’d see growing in front of a century-old farmstead in the Midwest. So it looks like I’ll need space for an orchard (surprise,) a pretty big berry patch and a shade garden. And one sunny border for playing with color. With permaculture-style layering, this could all fit nicely into an average lot, right?
I’d like an outdoor workspace with permeable paving and a nice place with fresh grass and weeds for the fowl and bunnies. Maybe a dovecote? Not very practical though, and I probably already have enough hobbies without bringing homing pigeons into the mix.
In his book “Northwest Landscaping”, Michael Munro says:
Though we may build a garden with some practical purpose in mind, a real garden expresses something about what delights or moves us.