Patience Is Not Just a Name : Courtyard Garden #courtyardgarden #gardening #acers

When we moved in some 5 years ago and started on the Courtyard Garden it was  as close to being a blank canvas as any gardener might have. Not everyone likes to garden of course, or indeed has the time to create a green space of any size, and for me at least the challenge of creating a new garden out of chaos is great fun.

Rule one is always to sit back and watch from the first spring through to early winter to see what might be hiding away in various corners. In the case of this garden… not a great deal as it happened.

The front garden was dark and a little gloomy with patches of grass either side of the front path and a small jungle – comprised of, among other things, a spotted laurel, large quince, a multi-stemmed wild cherry tree, a row of dense cypresses and a ‘vast’ ivy

At one end of that jungle, however –  with a distinct lean and making a valiant attempt to grow in the shadow of the firs was an acer, (variety unknown other than deep red Acer palmatum dissectum – i.e. has deeply cut feathery foliage). It was barely able to peer above wall level and needed its branches thinning out. For a its first two years it needed a stake to bring it upright and only last year did the foliage start to develop evenly instead of over producing leaves in strange pom-pom like displays. I still wonder if I should reduce it to one trunk instead of two, but its has a nice shape now and would take a while to recover from such drastic pruning.It is now a rather lovely tree approaching 5 feet high.

That first acer’s presence, being next to the gate, was at least obvious to us. We cleared away two car load’s of ivy and got a tree surgeon to cut down the firs and reduce the cherry plum from six trunks to one (don’t ask) and only then found, hidden under the spotted laurel – which itself was being crushed by a bowler hat of variegated ivy  –  another even smaller acer sapling. It had a label but one so worn it was illegible so again – variety unknown – beyond being another scarlet red Acer palmatum dissectum.

We moved this to the other side of the gate where it would have some light and space. Another sapling with its highest branch just reaching for the front wall’s apex.  I removed the lower limbs and those branches that had begun growing back on themselves in an effort to circumnavigate the laurel. It is starting to take shape now but is a slower growing variety with more finely cut leaves. It is just beginning to break bud so not at its best just yet, but a lovely tree echoing its larger cousin across the path.

While the front garden was a jungle there was little in the Courtyard itself  beyond one bed with a few roses in the back garden planted in the old fashioned way  –  4 feet from each other 🙂  And the second bed (the sunny border…) dotted with clumps of  Euphobia Wulfinii, ice plants (sedums) and a few scrubby hebes.

Hidden among them, however, was a little treasure struggling to survive. I think this is an Acer Palmatum Dissectum Viridis . It was no more than 18inches high and was attempting to do its thing but unable to ‘weep’ when all around it were taller and more prolific!  It has taken a few years but has just outgrown its second pot and now stands some 1.3 metres (in its pot).

Patience and some tlc has provided me with three beautiful trees from the kind of small saplings available from garden centres or even supermarkets – and for those I thank the Courtyard’s previous occupiers.


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