12 Months on an Island – 2017

When our house was finally being built in 2014 I asked the excavators to finish the driveway by circling it around halfway up the property, about where the house would go, thereby creating a garden island.  About half the island was buckthorn, red twig dogwood, sumac and small trees (basswood, maple, ironwood, juniper) and the other half was grass, where we parked and lived in a trailer while the house was built.  My plan, after the trailer was moved, was to make the entire island one large micro garden.

In 2017, much of my gardening efforts went into this Island, planting shrubs,  transplanting perennials, laying pathways, cutting out buckthorn and sumac, spreading native perennial seeds and planting a few vegetables amongst it all.  These Island pages are a photographic essay on the ever changing Island.

To begin with, from January 27 2017:

Island January 22 2017
No snow in January… had some on and off in February and March.  Isn’t that leaning tree in the middle back, behind the hydro pole, neat?
April 7 2017 flood
April 7, 2017.  Spring flooding.
Island April 9 2017
April 9, 2017.  Two days later water has receded – daffodil tips can be seen to the right of the fountain and on the far left.  If you squint you can see the Snowdrops (Galanthus) hanging on under the trees on the right.  Most of the Island was mulched over late in 2016 and a few pathways put in using flat chunks of limestone dug up during the house excavation.
Island April 17 2017
April 17, 2017.  More bulbs are showing – Hyacinth on the far left, Fritillaria persica in front of the fountain, Tulips near the right by the Emerald Cedar.  Narcissus Tete a Tete are blooming behind the path on the left.   These are the tiny daffodils you can buy in small pots at the grocery or variety store in February or March.  I usually buy a few pots and then in May plant the bulbs in the garden.  They very reliably come back and bloom year after year.
Island April 29 2017 2
April 29, 2017.  The large Daffodils are blooming, as are the Hyacinth.  A few shrubs and trees are starting to leaf out and the Peonies to the left are six to eight inches high.
Island May 6 2017
May 6 2017.  More Rain!!  In the middle of the wettest spring on record – the house was surrounded by LOTS of water, encroaching a few feet onto the Island.  No one was complaining – this time the previous year the Big Drought had begun.  We were happy knowing our well would likely be full all summer this year!  Daffs and Hyacinth in full bloom.
Island May 12 2017
May 12 2017.  A week later much of the ground water is gone.  Peonies and Spirea are leafing out, Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata) and Fritillaria persica are blooming in front of the fountain.
Island June 3 2017
June 3, 2017.  Lupins and Bridlewreath Spirea starting to bloom, on left ad far right.  White Lilac is blooming to right of fountain.  Peonies, Silphium, Rudbeckia are all getting tall.
Island June 10 2017 b
June 10, 2017.  Lupins and Spirea are in full bloom.
Island June 25 2017
June 25, 2017.  Foxglove are starting – behind and just to the right of the fountain.  I started these from seed in 2016 and was so happy to see them all survive both the drought that year plus the winter.  I’m hoping they’ll self seed and stay in the garden.
Island July 3 2017
July 3, 2017.  Stella d’Oro Daylilies are starting on left; Echinacea purpurea and Coreopsis also starting.  Digitalis still going strong; Peonies ending.
Island July 15 2017
July 15, 2017.  Alcea (Hollyhocks) on far left are just getting going; Echinacea getting into full gear all over.
Island July 29 2017
July 29, 2017.  White Phlox on the far left are blooming, but it’s the sunflowers that are starting to dominate the landscape — I didn’t plant any of them, the seeds must have been dropped here and there by chipmunks or birds.  Also getting taller are the Cup Plants – Silphium perfoliatum – started from seed and planted in spring 2016.  I’ve finished getting rid of all the grass on the island – and now everything is mulched, waiting for…something…
Island August 6 2017 d
August 6, 2017.  White Phlox on the far left plus lots of purple Echinacea and Liatris are the highlights, punctuated by yellow Coreopsis and Silphium.
Island August 19 2017 2
August 19, 2017.  The tall sunflowers are just starting to bloom – adding more yellow to the Island to go along with all the purple.
The Island Aug 27 2017
August 27, 2017.  The sunflowers are starting to open and the Rudbeckia is in full bloom. I’m harvesting yellow Zucchini from those giant plants near the right.
Island September 9 2017 b
September 9, 2017.  Sunflowers in full bloom, although they’re loosing the bottom branches as the seeds grow and get heavy.  The large sunflower on the right toppled over in a wind storm a few days earlier.
Island Sept 15 2017
September 15, 2017.  I took this photo from the roof  there doesn’t seem to be much colour from this angle, aside from the sunflowers in the middle.
Island Sept 22 2017
September 22, 2017.  There’s been no rain since mid August so everything’s a bit droopy.  I like the Evening Primrose and New England Aster on the far left, creeping onto the driveway.
Island October 7 2017
October 7, 2017.  The autumn die back has started; the drought continues.
Island Oct 19 2017 b
October 19, 2117.  It’s the reds, oranges and yellows of trees and shrubs that have taken centre stage.
Island November 4 2017
November 4, 2017.  Leaves from the large maples, ash and basswood along the fence line behind the Island have fallen – I love the leaning tree behind the hydro pole.  It’s going to fall one of these days, likely into the neighbouring field.
Island November 19 2017 a
November 19, 2017.  After the first snow of the season – just a dusting but very pretty on the ground.
Island December 3 2017
December 3, 2017.  The snow has melted – it’s still getting cold though!

Island December 16 2017

December 16, 2017.  The first heavy snow.

Island December 28 2017
December 28, 201\.  More snow and the deep freeze has set in.  The nice thing about the snow is it helps insulate the ground – hopefully keeping some plants and critters alive through the frigid winter temperatures.

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