Last week I wrote about coming home from Costa Rica. It occurred to me that I had some cool stuff going on in my world just before leaving for that trip. Getting ready to shut down all activity in the yard, getting irrigation and lighting tweaked for a hot and dry August in my absence makes me a little nervous. These things needed to be running right for about a month so I increased the time in each zone for a deeper watering in case the rain petered out as usual in August.
One of the things we got done before departing was Mimi and I always search for specimen trees that we can tie into a truckload of plants coming our way. We finally found a beautiful Waterfall Japanese maple that would fit into a newly created space in our backyard. We had a truckload coming in from Oregon so we talked to the grower there about what our dream maple would look like. After a few weeks he called us about a honeypot of Maples that he had found. He definitely was listening when we described and sent pictures of the tree that would be the highlight of this very visible spot. The tree was exactly what we had in mind, the only thing to be dealt with was that the timing was not perfect. It is often the case that when we are so specific about a tree we have to put on our patient pants and hold our breath. I have gotten a lot more confident about planting Maples in Mississippi. I went a long time with the misconception that maples are hit and miss here because of the long, hot, humid summers. I believed this all the while I was still seeing the huge Japanese Maples in some of the older neighborhoods in Jackson.
I knew it could be done but I was also seeing the weak Japanese Maples that just did terrible at our garden center. There were years that I basically would talk a customer out of throwing there money away on something that probably wouldn’t make it. It wasn’t until we moved into this house about 14 years ago that we started experimenting with good sized specimen Maples. At first we were very conservative with our placement of the maples in as much shade as we could find. As we were more and more successful with realizing that they are tougher than I ever guessed. We began testing the envelope deeper and deeper into direct sunlight until we discovered that Coral Bark Maples will whole heartedly take a full day of direct sun! We inadvertently discovered a large tree growing operation in Alabama that was in the process of folding up its popcycle stand right about the same time that our search for the biggest Coral Bark Maple that we could find began. We scored big time. We got three 15 year old maples, some Chinese Pistache’ and six elliptical sweet gums.
All of those trees were so big that they took all the space on an 18 wheeler. We had to send another truck back to get the rest of the load for sale at Garden Works, the original reason we went in the first place. 10 years later all those plants are doing great and we got some experience planting some huge trees and hollies. We decide then and there that the bigger the plant material the better since we have the equipment to make it happen. When the Fountain Maple showed up this spring we were so happy with the tree that growers sent us that we moved the tree over to our house to get ready for planting. The part that we didn’t foresee was that this spring was going to come in like a lion. The landscape crews were already in full tilt boogie, Garden works Retail team was running hard already, the tree would have to wait. The tree was pretty cool looking in its pot that was built out of wood slats. The pot itself was about 3 feet tall and conical in shape. The top of the rootball was covered in a green, Oregon-like moss. We put it a place that would get water from the irrigation so it wouldn’t be any trouble while we dived in to springtime bliss. I will post pictures of the tree and the planting process on our website in our blog section.
The Same day that we finished planting with the help from some of our landscape guys we went inside feeling very satisfied. We relaxed and got cleaned up just in time to receive a visit from one of our favorite people. Our buddy was just passing through and decided to see if we were home, I could tell that he was excited to show us something. We went out to his truck to help him unload his drone! Mimi and I have dreamed of a birds eye view of our yard we just never did anything about it. Our buddy had been practicing at running the drone smoothly, I insisted that he remained being the pilot of that thing as opposed to handing the controls over to me while watching the drone go straight into some electric wires or worse. The shots and videos that he got were incredible. They gave us some totally different perspectives on our yard, Some of the not so obvious things became obvious. We will always be grateful for his showing up that afternoon with his excitement about his new hobby and for being willing to show us the view from heaven. I’ll be posting some of those shots in our blog this week. When it was time for me to head out for Costa Rica I was feeling pretty good about leaving the maintenance part of yard to fend for itself. Mimi could relax about the yard for a few weeks during a not so great time to be in the garden. The ultimate test had arrived, all systems were go and the place looked great upon our return, that feels good.
I’m going to keep the water running until Mother Nature decides its our turn at some rain water.