Apple Alley is so named because of the bountiful apple trees that grow along its length. But apples aren’t the only fruit trees along the alley; alongside cherry, peach, pear in the alley as well as the nearby plum tree growing among Garden Dwarves, these fruit trees are the reason why Washington State is a Fruit Basket of the U.S.
This small but majestic stand of Western Redcedar speaks to the dominance of this Pacific Northwest Native Tree. Few other plants can survive underneath its heavy and acidic canopy. Among those few are native Sword fern and Salal, which cover almost every inch of ground except that closes to the protect trunk of this false cedar.
Whether on ground landscaped by nature or ground disrupted by human activity, it is never wise to plant ever inch of space. Here, in the Desert, can you guess why this wide field remains so apparently fertile and green yet not a single tree is planted or grow in its midst?
Close to Cedarville, the stately Douglas Firs have their own stand, dominating the landscape in Fir Plaza but not nearly so much as the Western Redcedar. The firs also bear some more creative shapes, figures, and sizes in the way their trunks seek and find the sunshine above.
A road is lonely that is not planted with trees alongside and the Frogwater Freeway attests to this. A variety of natives and non-natives are planted along the Freeway, all resistant to the pollution generated by passing cars and other vehicles on a private road that is surprisingly busy with the many activities along its length.
A garden is often no place for towering, dominating trees, so the ones planted among the flowers here on the Tour tend to be dwarves or pruned and smaller trees. Many beautiful dwarf cultivars and smaller trees are available for small garden planting, each with their own unique story about how they came to be.
A drive lined with trees is a goal for many a landscape, but in more rural ares of Whidbey Island, the deer often disrupt and destroy the ability of a line or stand of trees to survive to stability and maturity. The Japanese Maple is perfect for lining a drive, as deer want very little to do with it, preferring many of the other morsels on the property instead for both eating and rutting.
The North Forest is especially lucky, because it’s been planted in an fallen forest, replete with nurse logs and unbelievably fertile soil. If you don’t believe it, take a look at the tallest fir tree in the North Forest. Now over 20 feet tall, it was planted 5 years ago as a 12 inch sapling. Many of the other trees in the North Forest have equally astonishing growth rates, thanks to the many trees that came before to prepare the soil.
Planted close to the main house are several Japanese Maples and smaller trees that will never grow so great as to trouble the roof or disturb the eaves. Despite their small size, these trees still provide a harbor and shelter for birds and other small animals like chipmunks so they may access the bird feeders and baths in relative safety from the larger predators in the area (including but no limited to the dogs and cats that live here).
Unfortunately, invasive species still have their way on certain parts of Whidbey island. The Himalayan blackberry, in particular, has taken over many a garden, park, and yard in the Pacific Northwest. When the Prickly Patch hill was cleared to build the house on this property, the opportunistic blackberries took over. Alongside salmon berries, they make for an impossibly prickly journey from the top of the hill to the bottom. Such walks are best left for Lucky Lane, where all prickly things have been cleared for better walking.
It is all too easy to dismiss the rhododendron as a short, bushy shrub, one that tis prone to beautiful blooms only two weeks of the year. Yet, in the right combination of sun and shade as well as the proper soil acidity, the Rhododendron can grow to a size and stature consistent with a small tree. Rhodie Row warns against underestimating the growing potential of the lowly shrub.
The American Elm tree towers over the Silent Spring area, a reminder of the time when the robins became silent in the spring, as DDT saturated Elms inadvertently killed many a bird and threatened the continued health of the midwest spring. This area is named after Silent Spring, written by Rachel Carson in the late 1950’s and largely heralded as the written word which triggered the American environmentalist movement.
Perched on the edge of the wetland are a variety of deciduous and conifer trees, dominated by a single Quaking Aspen tree, which is committed to cloning itself into a stand of Quaking Aspen, as can be seen by the many saplings that now sprout and grow around the parent Aspen. In spaces not occupied by ambitious Quaking Aspen are a variety of other deciduous trees and conifers, only a few of which can keep pace with the Quaking Aspen’s astonishing reproduction rate.