Saturday, December 16, 2006

December's Garden Book

This month's book is My Favorite Plant edited by Jamaica Kincaid. Carol has given us the option of just posting our favorite flower. Perhaps I need to read the book for inspiration, because my favorite plant changes frequently. I'm indiscriminate, a promiscuous plant person. So here are some of my phases.

My garden is filled with remnants from my iris phase. I started with bearded irises, a demanding mistress. To remain vigorous, they need divided too often. The bloom period was short and the blooms were almost too showy. I lost interest in these demanding floozies, when I planted their well-behaved, refined cousin with attractive foliage, the Siberian iris. I have very tall dark purple, Butter & Sugar (yellow and white) and Steve (light blue). I then added a mix of Japanese iris and finally wild iris (blue flags and yellow flags) around the pond. These iris still give me great pleasure, but I can no longer label them "My Favorite Plant."
Siberian IrisesBlue Flag

Another phase was old roses. It started with transplanting Harison's Gold from an abandoned farmstead. You can tell from the picture of the yellow roses that it thrived in my garden. Then I ordered several old roses, charmed by their history: Empress Josephine, Apothecary and several others whose names I have lost. Moving on, I then planted about five types of David Austin roses, striving for the fragrance and form of the old roses but with repeat blooms. The last roses I planted were blushing Knock-Outs, not an old rose but still a nice addition to the garden.

Harison's Gold
Empress JosephineBlushing Knock Out
When I first moved here, my favorite plants were wildflowers, thanks to my meadow and woods. These are still some of my favorite flowers. I'm amazed at the color combinations and the health of these plants.

Black-Eyed Susans and Asclepias tuberosaCommon Milkweed - look at the intricate detail and they are so fragrant
Volunteer Cattails and Joe-Pye Weed
Jack in the Pulpit

I'm just finishing a container phase. I enjoy designing these "mini-gardens" because it was easy to experiment with plant combinations and colors. And then you combine the containers for a larger display. Next year I will still have some containers, but with 3 acres to plant and the watering demands of containers, I think I will scale back.

Created for Master Gardener talk

Over the years, I've flirted with dianthus and still have three species and several cultivars in the garden. I'm still in love with Lady's Mantle. The foliage is so attractive and the chartreuse flowers fill in bouquets so nicely. Another favorite is columbine. And I could go on and on!

Dianthus "Essex Witch"
Lady's Mantle

I'm in the middle of a sedum phase. Do you know how many sedums there are and how different they look? The blooms are unusual, usually red (from light pink to almost black) or yellow. The foliage is attractive from early spring to late fall, with a wide variation in color (light and dark green, red, dark purple) and form (trailers to upright). Planted together, they form a tapestry of color and shape. Perhaps I will get a picture of these next summer.

I'm just entering a tricyrtis or toad lily phase. I have three varieties and and longing for more as I peruse the garden catalogues.

So with this long post, I think I have sufficiently supported my thesis: I am too fickle to have a favorite plant. This reminds me of a Robert Louis Stevenson poem I learned in my youth, which I have found to be true these many years (and I added another year today...Happy Birthday Earth Girl).
The world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.


Carol said...

Just came across your posting for December's Garden Bloggers Book Club. I'll add you to the list for the posting of everyone's thoughts, on or about Dec. 29th

I love all the different flowers! Don't we all grow in phases!

Thanks for participating!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

You know, you're the second blogger I've seen who can't pick a favorite, either! Makes me feel much better, since I am not even close to being able to say "My Favorite Plant" without adding and "s" at the end of it. :)

Sophie said...

Great, fun post! And happy birthday to you!

I live in zone 7 (I think it is 7 -- SE of the US, middle part of GA) and my roses do horribly. Irises, however, behave well, and I usually get two blooms a year out of them. Need your advice: should I split and separate my Japanese irisses? They are the only ones that didn't do so well this year.

I have never seen a toad lily. Thanks for the pic!

Carol said...

I totally spaced your last comment about your birthday. Happy Belated Birthday!

Colleen said...

Wonderful post, and gorgeous photos. I had to chuckle a little as I got to the end of your post, since each time you moved on to a new plant, I found myself saying, "oh, yeah, I can totally see how that would be her favorite...."

That close-up of the common milkweed is beautiful, btw.