All Seasons Garden
The All-Seasons Garden is a large island bed designed to demonstrate the concept of a garden with four seasons of interest. With the help of The Peoria Garden Club, the All-Seasons Garden was built and dedicated on Arbor Day in 1978. Recently in 2008, it was refurbished, incorporating new trees, flowering shrubs, grasses, perennials and teak benches. Four seasons of interest is provided by using a diversity of trees, shrubs, grasses, evergreens and perennials; and using plants with extended periods of interest like the hydrangea, with its long lasting flowers that even persist into the winter. In addition, we utilized plants that offer several seasons of interest. A good example being the Midwinter Fire Dogwood that blooms in spring, bears fruit in summer and brightens the winter with orange and red stems. In exploring this garden throughout the year you will discover that interest can come in many different forms:
Anchoring the east end of the garden is a couple Baldcypress Taxodium distichum. They have beautiful fine-textured foliage that turns a wonderful orange to copper in fall. Beneath the Baldcypress, is a cluster of Midwinter Fire Dogwood Cornus sanguinea 'Midwinter Fire,' (photo left) (2) a cultivar of Bloodtwig Dogwood, noted for its colorful branches and twigs in winter. It is a multi-stemmed shrub that grows to 5-6' in height and spread. The outstanding winter stems range from yellow near the base to orange in the middle and red at the tips. It bears white flowers in the spring followed by white fruit and golden yellow fall color. A bit further west you will find Doublefile Viburnum Viburnum plicatum var. tomentosum 'Mariesii,' (photo below) most noted for its distinctive layered horizontal branching. It is a broad, dense, multi-stemmed shrub that typically reaches to 10-12’ in height and spreads to 15’ in width. White flower clusters bloom in profusion along the branches in April or May and give way in summer to red berry-like drupes which mature to black. It bears dark green leaves that turn reddish purple in fall
Along the south edge, a flowering shrub that spans multiple seasons is the Pinky Winky Hydrangea Hydrangea paniculata 'DVPpinky.' It has unique white and pink two-toned flower heads that appear in mid-summer, they emerge white and the flowers at the base quickly turn pink. The flowers will persist well into winter, drying to creamy beige. Also along this south edge, a Contorted Filbert or Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick Corylus avellana ‘Contorta’ acts as a focal point. It has unique and whimsical character with twisted and spiraling branches, twigs and leaves. In fall and winter, when the leaves have fallen, it becomes quite noticeable and provides incredible winter interest. Nearby the Rozanne Cranesbill Geranium 'Gerwat' (see photo below) has very large violet blue flowers with white centers, with an exceptional long bloom time, from early summer until frost. It is a beautiful plant that forms a mound, 20” tall and 24” in width. Behind the cranesbill, there is a cluster of Viking Black Chokeberry Aronia melanocarpa ‘Viking’, an open upright shrub that reaches 4-6’ in height and spread. It bears white flower clusters in spring and black fruit in the summer that persist well into the winter. Its fall color ranges from crimson to wine-red to apricot.
At the west end of the garden, a Lacebark or Chinese Elm Ulmus parvifolia, reaching 40 to 50' in height and spread, has deep green foliage that turns yellowish to bronze to reddish purple in fall. Its most interesting trait is distinctive patchy bark which sheds leaving irregular spots of orange, gray, green, brown beautiful all year long. In addition, it is highly resistant, but not immune, to Dutch elm disease, that has almost wiped out the American Elm. It is a good tree that bears the burden of being related to or often confused with the awful Siberian Elm.
On the north side, near the path entrance Bottlebrush buckeye Aesculus parviflora (photo right) sweeps alongside the path toward the bench. It blooms in midsummer, with majestic 1’ white panicles. It is native to the Carolinas but tends to be much hardier than indicated by this natural range, easily handling USDA Zone 5 and usually Zone 4. It bears large handsome leaves, delicately held in layers, which turn bright golden yellow in autumn. Spreading slowly by suckering at the base, it reaches 8-12’ in height and slightly wider in spread. It tends to be unaffected by the leaf blotch, leaf scorch and powdery mildew affecting the Ohio Buckeye and Horse Chestnut. It is a wonderful focal point or backbone massing for shaded gardens or on the north side of buildings.