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429-ii-002The breezy rain in these latter days of April 2009 has taken a toll on our beautiful blooming apple and crab apple trees. The ground under the apple looks like it has just snowed.429-016

The wild flowers—trilliums, Virginia bluebells, Dutchman’s breeches are fully out and some are beginning to fade. The wild ginger has expanded its territory and I think I see the tips of the Jack in the Pulpits breaking through the mulch under the tupelo/black gum tree.


Over the weekend we had two warmer-than-normal days. Gusty winds were at play so relaxing and reading the paper at the big stone table in the garden were not really an option. (Thank you, March!)

Still it was nice to be outside without a coat.

Managed to trim the lavender, sage & the multi-stemmed sargent crab and spread a few more of my 135 bags of mini-pine nuggets mulch. As I look around I wonder if 135 will be enough. We’ve created and expanded lots of beds in the last several years!

Headed over to Ohio State to obtain replacements for a couple small trees purchased in November that became fodder for rabbits and/or deer (who knows?). I expected some damage but the sassafras totally disappeared!


Curse you Bambi & Thumper!

Thank you to Dan Struve and Meghan Blake for making this possible!

Welcome back to Nine Pines Garden! 

I fed my tree addiction last Thursday at a sale of native trees by Meghan K. Blake, Research Assistant at the Ohio State University Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and the grower of what appeared to be several hundreds of lovely little containerized trees. 

The sale took place at the site where the trees were being raised, the OSU Waterman Farm at the OSU Container Teaching and Research Nursery, 2490 Carmack Road at the northwest reaches of the campus. Why do all these academic outfits have such long names and titles?

Promotional emails that were sent to the Friends of Chadwick Arboretum & Learning Gardens alerted me to the sale and said proceeds from the 3-day sale are slated to fund nursery research and education at Ohio State. (And, I hope, a few Friday night pizzas for the hard-working Meghan and her buddies.)

 Meghan had lots of cool choices available including medium and large trees (when mature) like Yellowwood (Cladrastis lutea), Blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica) and at least a half-dozen varieties of oak. Unfortunately for me, Nine Pines Garden already has a full complement of large trees (including 2 yellowwoods, 1 blackgum and 3 oaks). Most are not large as of yet but everyone knows that good gardeners site plants responsibly assuring adequate space to accommodate their mature size and that trees are not furniture and must not be treated as such. Of course, no one is responsible all of the time-least of all (alas!) me.

 Never mind…

Although I didn’t plan to buy anything (r-i-g-h-t!), after 15 minutes my flat cart/wagon was fully loaded with plants. Ultimately, by putting one plant back I was able to get them all on the cart without carrying any in my hand—an arbitrary but necessary limit that kept me from feeling like an undisciplined idiot later on.

 The plants were a good value—healthy and inexpensive. Sure, they’re small, but they look very healthy. I feel hopeful for their successful transition into the Nine Pines landscape. 

Here’s the tally… 

  • 1 Sassafras (Sassafras albidum) – I’ve been looking for a sassafras tree for several years (they’re not abundant in local commerce) because of their fabulous fall color. It will occupy a little gap at the west end of the swoosh bed where a seedling kousa dogwood expired last year.


  • 4 Sweetbay magnolias (Magnolia virginiana) & 3 Rainbow Pillar® Serviceberries (Amelanchier canadensis ‘Glenn Form’) – The sweetbays and serviceberries will be alternated in a line along the west side of the house (master bedroom and my office windows located there). I had to remove the beautiful but diseased flowering plum this year. (I will miss those gorgeous blossoms next spring.)  


  • 2 Carolina silverbells (Halesia carolina) – The silverbells will join the single silverbell already in place in the middle of the swoosh bed to fill out that space and to create a more pleasing grouping. 


  • 1 American Hornbeam/Musclewood (Carpinus caroliniana) – The hornbeam will be used as a specimen near the street at the southeast corner of the property by the driveway where bulk mulch and compost have been stored for several years waiting to be distributed. My neighbors will be delighted not to have to look at THAT weedy mess anymore.

These were all in 2- or 3-gallon containers so they were small and easy to handle. I have set them out but haven’t planted them yet. It’s amazing how easy it was to find spots for these little guys.

I managed not to fall for the siren songs of the stunning but temperamental Stewartia pseudocamellia (Japanese Stewartia) or Franklinia altamaha (Franklinia). My two stewartias both keeled over earlier this year and the emotional wounds haven’t yet healed. How did they get that gorgeous (Stewartia pseudocamellia) specimen to grow in the Cleveland Botanical Garden?

I think I’ll skip the photos of the new trees for now—without leaves, there’s not much to see. We’ll see what they look like in a few months.

 Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment or ask questions.

Trifoliar Maple

Trifoliar Maple

More pictures of seasonal change around the Nine Pines Garden.

Robinson Crabapple

Robinson Crabapple




The crabapples nearly glow with color. Or so I’m told.






Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

Our little “Fingernail Japanese Maple”
Black Gum

Black Gum

The Black Gum is one of the more dramatic trees for fall color.
Doral Chenoweth III | Dispatch

Doral Chenoweth III | Dispatch

Last Sunday, from about 3pm to 9pm we were blown witless by dry, swirling winds of 60-75 mph; roughly equivalent to a Category One hurricane—but without the moisture. Greetings from Hurricane Ike!

No rain but just gusty, powerful winds for 6 or 7 hours! No one seems to remember anything like it before.

News reports claimed 286,000 Franklin County residents were without power. Many are still in the dark, including much of my neighborhood. Despite AEP’s best efforts the last remnant may not have their power restored until Sunday, the 21st.

Six hours of the eerie sounds of cracking and crashing tree limbs, power lines snapping and sparking on the ground, electrical transformers blowing out like small bombs and things flying through the air that we are unaccustomed to seeing in flight.

Six hours of anxiety.



It was as if France’s famous mistral wind had somehow reached across the ocean. In his novel A Year in Provence Peter Mayle talks about local legends of the mistral inducing madness. Now I have a sense of how that could be.

We were very fortunate—our power stayed on; but many of our neighbors were not so lucky. We had virtually no damage, just a few twigs down. Most of our trees are young and flexible and healthy. Here at Nine Pines, we invest in regular trimming, fertilizing and when necessary anti-bug and anti-disease treatments to keep them in good condition.

In our subdivision dozens of bright orange extension cords lay across streets like tiny speed bumps as neighbors offer neighbors the means to keep their basic vital systems running-freezers, refrigerators, health appliances—even fish tanks. It’s an ill wind indeed that blows no one good.

Part of the shock of this event was the strangeness of it. No flooding, no eight-foot snow drifts, no freezing or super-hot temperatures and yet the county has been paralyzed for nearly a week. Some schools and businesses are still closed.



It makes you think.

When we don’t prune in the garden, Nature does it for us through wind, ice, hail, fire, and flood. One way or another, the boughs will be shaped or strengthened. If we don’t prune away the stress and plow under the useless in our lives, pain will do it for us. Make no mistake; I think pain is a wretched gardener. Her cuts stun and sting. But after pruning, and preferably voluntary, we’re able to discern what’s real, what’s important, and what’s essential for our happiness. – Sarah Ban Breathnach

One other side effect—look for a baby boomlet mid-June 2009 with a greater than expected number of the little tykes named Ike or some derivative.