Stunning Summer Views 3: Grown Up & Glorious
Thanks to site-specific choices, deep soil, and plenty of sun, the plantings reach a steady state of maturity in just a couple of years. The many and massive neighbors to be screened have become so—but with plants that are so ornamental that the first impression isn’t of privacy creation at all. It’s sheer beauty.
- Only when seen from the upper parcel does the immense focal bed seem "normal" sized. Groups of shrubs, grasses, trees, and—given the scale needed—perennials least of all, synergise into a season-long show of buoyant color, texture, and engagement. Note the color palette of white, yellow, and green: No other spectrum offers such wide choices for warm-season color in both foliage and flowers.
- Seen head-on, from the new terrace, the screening of the enormous neighboring house is complete. The frothy clouds of white bloom are of variegated tree aralia, the most exciting variegated woody plant for hardy climates.
- Closer in, the fantastically bizarre habit of the native perennial Prairie Dock is even more striking. The basal clumps of banana-like leaves can be four feet high; the thick stalks of yellow daisies ten to twelve! Because the stalks are leafless, they create a dramatic scrim through which the bright yellow Siberian dogwood and variegated tree aralia are fully visible.
- At the far-right back of the focal bed is a quintet of pollarded paulownias. Their enormous leaves are, nonetheless, immune to damage from summer storms. Because they are pruned back to six-foot trunks each winter, the new stems, seen here, can grow fifteen to twenty feet by September, with leaves that are even larger than usual. Handled this way, the trees don't flower—or, therefore, self-seed.
- A huge bed of Chinese sumac is already (as is its nature) nearing twenty feet tall. A grove of giant arborvitae is scarcely visible, but in time will continue the screening another twenty feet higher. At the peak of late summer, the sumac bursts into bloom: see the next shot.
- The white flowerheads of Chinese sumac can be eighteen inches across. They are a triumphant peak to the growing season.
- The top parcel. Someday, a guesthouse will be built here. Meanwhile, the six-foot wall that retains this parcel required a perimeter barrier to prevent falls. Plantings at least three feet wide are typically sufficient for zoning. Here is a line of Vitex at its August peak along the south side of the parcel. Barely visible is the upper portion of the neighboring house screened by the focal bed.
- At the corner of the upper parcel nearest the terrace, a grove of seven-son trees brings September flowers that are loved by bees.
- Hardy ivy flowers in September and October, and is a welcome last feast of nectar and pollen as bees prepare for winter.
- A colony of ivy has long colonized the retaining wall of the upper parcel. In late summer, it bursts into bloom.
- In leaf, the birch grove screens the house from the side road.
- Looking through a line of tree hydrangeas atop the east stretch of the upper-parcel's retaining wall, you can see down to the new terrace. The end of the corner-hedge of metasequoias is at the right, while the paradisical view of boats and islands in the harbor is ahead.
- Even from the very back of the property, there is much to see in addition to the ever-prevent water. A the far right, the front of the focal bed. At near right, a young purple beech that will, in time, spread to be seventy feet wide and fifty feet high. At the left, a colony of giant reed providing some dramatic quick screening of the houses's upper stories. In the distant center, the hedge of young metasequoias that provide the screening necessary to make relaxing out on the otherwise-exposed outer portion of the terrace comfortable.
- Seen somewhat closer, the hedge of young metasequoias screening the terrace from inland gaze. This unusual conifer drops its needles for the winter—when the owners aren't in residence, so screening isn't needed. Metasequoias are extremely fast-growing: the top three or four feet are pruned from these annually at their early-spring trim.