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Hello everyone!

I’ve got to start right off by saying how much we appreciated the warm welcome and gracious comments received from last week’s dabble in the SOS gardening-post pool. Spanning the pond and beyond, what a treat to see and receive such positivity -thank you for spreading that gardening joy our way. 🙂

While some of you in the UK are probably entering that ‘middle’ time of late spring/early summer where lots of plants are transitioning and emerging plants aren’t quite yet filling in for the bedraggled early spring stars. We are just now entering a period of the year when new developments and flowering discoveries are revealing themselves almost by the hour. It’s that magical time of ‘wow’ in our southern Finland garden. Nearly everything we’re growing has been in this garden for 7 years or less, because that’s when we started the garden renovations – trees especially are really coming into themselves, and that becomes even more pronounced for specie which are of the flowering variety!

In case you’d like to see one of those —- How it started/How it’s going photos – HERE you go!

This is an angle view of part of our property – April 2015

For reference, keep track of the two pine trees in the upper right-hand corner, and two other large trees upper left when comparing the next photo taken this morning. Also edited with blue dots on those specific trees.

The two trees – left-hand upper – were/are mature apple trees, that until 2015 had never been pruned in all their lives – which could have begun sometime in the 1950s. Bringing them, and all the other apple trees, into manageable size was carried out over the course of a few years. I think we’ve gotten there! While the apple blossom displays in those early days were truly magnificent, the trees produced millions of teeny apples with the trees so extremely large. After pruning down, we get large handful-sized apples (my lady hand, not Pekka’s huge mitt!!) and apples we can reach! Our town, Lohja is a lake city celebrating 700 years of existence this year, but it’s also an apple-growing paradise. Both large and small-scale apple production can be found in our Uusimaa region. We await the millions of blooms and glorious sweet aromas which will grace us in the next few weeks as our trees, and trees everywhere around the region, come into bloom. Apple trees are historically and quintessentially part of Finnish culture – so nearly every house or apartment block has apple trees in the landscape.

But I’ve digressed! – It’s easy enough to do! There are hundreds of new stories this old place has to tell, plus all the old stories that still haven’t been told. I feel very fortunate to be able to share some of the stories with you!

So now that you’ve gotten a bit of perspective about our early days – hopefully it’s possible to better understand our excitement and satisfaction, (mostly relief) that not only do we still have so much of what we started off with, but that additions we’ve introduced since 2016 through our garden renovation scheme are really doing great! Miracle of miracles!! Hey, we’ve had plenty of failures! Some were soul-crushing, some dumb-founding, many were winter-related but a few were casualties of bad planting practices – but thankfully not too many! Oh, we’ve also been, just plain lucky! To all the fairy godmothers, and lucky stars which have helped and guided us on our garden journey: Thank you!

In the modern era of YouTube and countless how-to, and DIY publications, it’s possible for anyone/everyone to be a better gardener, whether you’ve got a lucky star or not! We are all fortunate to have information within reach 24/7/365 with which to consult, commiserate, seek advice, and learn How-To. Speaking of that, I must pass on this timely bit of information, which surely every one of us; whether gardener, artist, art lover, or marvel*er* of science can appreciate – BEHOLD – The Royal Horticulture Society launched in April a digital collection spanning 500 years of garden history, art and science! RHS Digital Collections I wouldn’t have known a thing about it, were it not for a post from Siân Rees, who writes a blog I follow called, Planting Diaries – Thank you Siân!!

As this post is trying to keep within the Six on Saturday guidelines, my entries for this week are as follows:

Larch – Larix kaempferi ‘Blue Rabbit’ Ours is now quite possibly in the 2+ meter tall range, but since it’s only been with us a short time, the width and full height are still a few years away.

Nearby the larch is this red Norway maple – Acer Platanoides ‘Faassen’s Black‘ – which is looking quite handsome in the morning backlight. We employ a color theme throughout the gardens which plays off burgundy and blue, which both the larch and the maple bring in spades. These two colors plus creamy white make up a large portion of our visual display. Pink, green, and apricot round out the first three majority color players. One of the colors we only just started to incorporate is yellow. It makes both complimentary and contrasting enhancement to the other major players.

While the leaves on this variegated box elder are not yet fully apparent, it too is an Acer – Acer negundo ‘Aureomarginatum‘ – the leaf variegation is light green and yellow and ours takes on a glowing yellow color once the leaves are full emerged. In the spring, these long candelabra/pendant clusters are actually the female spring flowers of this species.

Something we added quite late to the garden was this Juneberry – Amelanchier lamarckii – which can be either a shrub or a tree (how nice!) Ours is listed among the flowering bushes & shrubs within our, What’s Growing at Vanha Talo Suomi, garden page. Possibly it will surprise us and decide to be a tree someday – hopefully it will find the joy to be either form, from where we have situated it prominently in front of our shed/out building. The flowers are small, yet delightful, and seem to dance upon the branches in even the slightest of breezes.

This crabapple, Malus ‘Tammisaari’ is so uncommon there aren’t even links to provide as sources, but it’s available from one Finnish nursery, which just happens to be our local favorite, Taimiteutari Ay. Tammisaari is the Finnish name of the place where the tree originates, which happens to be a seaside town not too far away, within the Finnish archipelago. If you click on the later link, and it takes you to the town of Ekenäs, and you’re wondering what went wrong – ha ha! That’s the two national languages playing doublespeak! Everything in Finland is identified, and or explained in either Finnish or Swedish, usually both. Depending upon which language has majority within a specific area, town, etc, determines whether the Swedish comes first, or whether the Finnish does on listings and signage! Ekenäs, is predominately Swedish speaking, as are many of the historic and well-known Finnish seaside cities & towns.

As for the lovely ‘Tammisaari’ crabapple tree – I fell in love with the thought of it smothered in those deep pink blossoms while the dark trunk and stems are adorned with deep red-colored leaves. As mentioned earlier, burgundy colors are one of our main color themes. This tree is stunning and while only about 2 meters now, it’s got lots of time to fatten up and put on more height. “Meanwhile in Finland” might be a meme, but I’m adoring this truly wonderful flowering gem!

And finally! Speaking of gems! Our gem garden was, how can I say, ‘perfected’, augmented, complimented – whatever! We added this metal domed pergola to the gem garden recently – last week – and while it meant the gravel circle diameter was reduced about 40 cm, we positioned the pergola right on the edge of the existing entry point. There’s now a resulting wide crescent-shaped swath of fresh, unplanted garden bed just lurking and skirting the circle of small rocks at the pergola base. The crescent widens quite a bit on the immediate back side, and narrows towards the front. It’s maybe those lucky stars, or possibly my psychic ability which somehow lead me to have several newly purchased items just waiting to be planted – hmmm, so funny how that works out, but also, how it seems to keep happening!

Items on hand, from recent purchases, included two ‘New Dawn‘ pink climbing roses and two ‘Romantika‘ Clematis. They were all planted the other day, right after the pergola was finally assembled, was put upright and in position. There are no photos of the pergola unboxing, or it’s construction – and you can be glad. There was much frustration- and being a two-man, or in our case, one man, one lady job – it somehow managed to not only get constructed, but also is now, and still, in one piece! The pergola was, believe or not, an impulse purchase. It appeared in the weekly newspaper bundle of circulars and sales fliers from the local shops and stores. Being that these sorts of offerings are of the untypical and uncommon variety, I purchased it after about two minutes of seeing it for sale – and on sale it was, despite being the first time I’d seen it. I might not have made the plunge to purchase had it not been on sale! (I see what you did there, Hankkija!)

Well, now that it’s in position, I think the pergola looks like it should have been there the whole time. Funny how some things are just so naturally well-fitted, you wonder how you could have managed without them beforehand. Am I speaking about the gem garden, the pergola, or could I possibly be referring to my assistant head gardener in this whole production: Pekka?! hmm. (I got so frustrated/mad while putting that thing together, thanks for not killing me Chief!) Now, this gem garden only appeared in place last April – so a year and one month later – the gems are emerging from the ground for the first time in their new situation. Not only have they survived through Finnish winter, they are just that teensy bit bigger! I hope they put on another summer spectacle as they did last year! For everyone who is just now tuning in, the gem garden is filled with an assortment of perennials including: peony, daylily, iris, phlox, delphinium, and a whole host of other summer-blooming perennials. All of it accentuated by five DeGroot’s Spire conifers. We had the metal seating/bench already, but in another location. Pekka said, “hold on!” And promptly loped off, returning with the bench and snuggled it into the back of the pergola. Perfect fit! I’m looking forward to the years ahead when sitting on the bench, under the perfola, surrounded by blooms and snatches of colorful gems will be an immersion of tranquility and beauty. Right now, I’m mostly marveling at the potential. I’m happy with the small pleasures the flowers and plants have to offer us in their infancy. Watch this space! It’s the mantra of this garden, or so it seems 🙂

As this was much more content than the guidelines of the usual SOS – Six on Saturday post are resigned to, – I hope I won’t get kicked to the curb for failing so soon to stick to the rules 🙂 Please let us come back!! I promise to try harder next time! That is, unless I’ve got more to say, or more to share, or there just happens to be some great nugget of Finnish culture or history being made, or occurring at any given time! 🙂

Great gardens await for any and all who dare to enter the SOS zone – Venture forth everyone!

Until next time!

-Kate ❤ Vanha Talo Suomi