A Small Garden by Mike Donnally

The front garden beds, between the house and the sidewalk, are 9' 10" deep.  It was challenging to choose plants which would provide privacy and grow well in such a narrow space. 

March 2015

July 2015

The garden's foundation plants are beeches (Fagus sylvatica 'Dawyck Gold') and arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis 'Emerald Green').  The beeches serve as privacy walls, when in leaf, and as screens, when leafless.

The garden beeches, between the sidewalk and the house, were thin and 5' - 6' tall, when planted in May 2004.

The two beds of beeches, between the sidewalk and the street, lie in the municipal area and were created and planted to provide additional, first floor privacy from the street.  The area is 11' 0" deep, from edge of sidewalk to edge of curbing.  Each of these municipal beds initially held one beech, planted in October 2008.  Two more beeches were added to each bed in April 2011.  Permission from the town's tree warden was required, to plant the beeches in the municipal space.

The openings, between the garden's beech walls and the nearby arborvitae, permit access to the house for maintenance.

The beeches are columnar in habit and are pruned to maintain a strict form.  The first, seasonal pruning is done before the leaf buds swell.  This first pruning is done in April.  It is a corrective pruning.  Internal branch growth, from the previous growing season, which resulted in cross branching is removed.  Dead branch and branchlet growth is removed. The outlines of the canopies are pruned to maintain relatively linear edges.  Spring growth is robust and requires a second pruning. Before pruning the spring growth, I take time to appreciate its liquid beauty.  The limpid, new growth is like a waterfall of gold.  Lighter pruning is done in July and August to remove stray, surface growth.  The beeches, as utilized in my garden, are not low maintenance plantings.

The color of the spring foliage is buttery gold.  By mid-season, the overall color of the canopy becomes a medium green, interrupted by new growth shoots of gold.  Fall arrives and the leaves take on a bronzed and rigid appearance.  Leaf venation becomes evident.  It is a reminder of the plants' vascular system.  Some of the beech leaves remain throughout the winter.  They are persistent.  These leaves flutter in cold winds.  When outside, I can hear the particular sounds that are produced by wind rustling through these winter leaves.

The beeches are becoming the privacy walls that I imagined when they were planted years ago.  The result is gratifying.

April 24, 2016