We’re making lots of progress with our long list of summer chores here at the farm.
This time of year can be very hectic – my gardeners and outdoor grounds crew are busy keeping up with all the rapid growth in the garden beds. Many days are spent trimming and pruning the hedges and shrubs, mowing the horse paddocks and hay fields, tending the vegetable and flower gardens – and of course, weeding, weeding, weeding. Last week, the team tackled the terraces outside my Winter House – clipping and shaping the boxwood and golden barberry.
Here are some photos, enjoy.
On the upper terrace parterre in front of my Winter House porch, I have four quadrants, each with a large boxwood shrub surrounded by a square hedge of boxwood and golden barberry. Here is one of the quadrants before it is trimmed – look at all the growth.
I love boxwood and use a lot of it around the farm. Buxus is a genus of about 70 species in the family Buxaceae. Common names include box or boxwood. The boxes are native to western and southern Europe, southwest, southern and eastern Asia, Africa, Madagascar, northernmost South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The leaves on boxwood branches are arranged opposite from each other, making pairs.
Golden barberry, Berberis thunbergii, is a deciduous shrub that is compact, adaptable, very hardy and shows off striking yellow foliage year-round.
At least once a year, we groom and prune the boxwood and barberry. This is mostly done with hand shears to give them a more clean and manicured appearance. Okatsune shears are light and precise, and the blades are made using the same hammer-forged steel used for manufacturing Japanese swords. Phurba starts from the top of the shrub and works his way down.
I prefer much of the trimming be done manually so the leaves are not damaged. Hand shears are user-friendly and leave hedges looking flat and tidy.
For the flat tops of the hedge, we also use our STIHL HSA 25 Battery-Powered Garden Shear. The hedge shear attachment with double-sided cutting blades cut in both directions. It’s one of our favorite tools – it’s very light and handy.
Here, Phurba trims and shapes the low boxwood hedge. Afterward, he moves onto the barberry, which is trimmed so it is just a few inches taller than the boxwood.
Here, one can clearly see what side is trimmed and what side still has to be done.
Phurba also works on the lower terrace parterre, again shaping and trimming the manicured hedge. And always use sharp, clean shears when pruning any plantings – this will ensure precise, neat cuts.
To clean the area after pruning, Phurba lightly blows any cut leaves and debris with STIHL’s backpack battery and handheld blower. The backpack battery eliminates the cost of fuel and engine oil and can be used for several hours before needing another charge.
All the cuttings are placed into my Martha Stewart Multi-Purpose Heavy-Duty Garden Tote Bags. We use these bags all over the farm. Each tote can hold more than 900-pounds!
Once everything is trimmed, the terrace looks so much better. All my boxwood is also treated monthly with TopBuxus Health Mix, which prevents the fungal disease called box blight and provides the plants with rich nutrients that restore new green leaves and strong branches.
Here is another view looking out onto the paddocks and my chicken coops beyond. Once clipped, the outermost parts of the hedges are also exposed to more light and air, which help promote good growth.
On the terrace, I also have a few potted plants. This is a cycad. Cycads are seed plants with a very long fossil history. They typically have a stout and woody trunk with a crown of large, hard and stiff, evergreen leaves.
Just outside my Winter House kitchen and servery is this beautiful weeping katsura tree. The katsura tree, native to Japan, makes an excellent specimen or shade tree. The weeping katsura, Cercidiphyllum japonicum f. pendulum has pendulous branches that fan out from the crown and sweep the ground. Caramel-scented foliage emerges bronze or purple-red, turns blue-green, then fades to gold or apricot in autumn.
Mixed in the terrace gardens are beautiful white lilies – all opening now. In an upcoming blog, I’ll share photos of my white lily garden in full bloom.
And this is part of the stone wall surrounding the terraces outside my Winter House. Here we planted lots of sedums – they really work well in rock gardens. Sedum is a large genus of flowering plants, also known as stonecrops. Sedums are members of the succulent family. They have fleshy, water-storing leaves and are drought tolerant.
Sedum, like other succulents, retain water in their leaves and can thrive in dry climates. They need little soil and water to survive, which makes them excellent for planting here.
Here is more sedum growing at the base of a step. Once the roots take hold, the plant wedges itself in and begins to spread. Sedums thrive nearly anywhere as long as they get good drainage.
And here is one of two hand-casted antique fountains I purchased many year ago. It is turned on with the smallest dome of water possible – I wanted to be sure it was an attractive spot for visiting birds. I love this view looking over the peaceful fountains and out onto the pretty summer landscape. I hope you are all enjoying your gardens this season.