Monday, May 28, 2007

The Evolution of a Gardener

I'm not the gardener I used to be. The last two days have provided ample evidence of my evolution. If words aren't enough to convince you, then the pictures might. You will notice there is absolutely nothing special about the photos posted today. And that, as a certain maven of house and home might say, is a very good thing.

Living on the "edge" has never appealed to me. Until yesterday afternoon, that is. I snuck into the garden for a few hours late in the day and managed to get in some serious edging. For the first time, I found myself really enjoying the real, hard work of gardening. When I was done, it didn't matter that not a single new plant had made it into the ground. That sharp edge, which now defines a shady corner of my yard, was satisfaction enough.

Satisfaction is a fleeting feeling though. When I woke up this morning, that crisp new edge called out for more plants. I had the day off so getting to the garden centre would not be a problem. But before setting out I did something unthinkable. I made a list! I wanted 3 daylilies, 5 heuchera, 3 golden Japanese forest grass, 3 astilbe and 3 helebores.

A list? What has happened to me? I used to go to the garden centre and snap up anything that caught my eye. It didn't matter that the colours clashed or that the conditions in my yard weren't right. Of course, I ended up regretting most of those impulse buys as they withered away into oblivion. My garden languished even as I pumped more and more purchases into it. Somewhere along the way, I realized the garden books had it right. I needed a plan. My list was the beginning of my plan.

The daylilies were easy. There are so many to choose from but I went with the Stella de Oro. I've heard nothing but good things about this long-blooming variety. I planted them across the path from my existing patch of daylilies, variety unknown. Together, they will soften the edge of the path and provide balance and symmetry to the back of the garden.

I downsized from five to three heuchera. The "Hollywood" variety available was huge. I was only expanding an existing patch of heuchera and decided that three would do. I also decided against the astilbe. The plants available were enormous and, therefore, expensive. I figure I'll divide my own astilbe in the next few years and get more plants that way instead.

While we're on the topic of pricey, how about my three Helleborus "Ivory Prince." $22.50 each! Ouch. But I had a plan. I realized the hellebores had already peaked. I would have to wait until next spring to really appreciate their flowers. They would fit perfectly into my woodland garden area. List in hand, the expense was justifiable.

I was foiled in my attempts to find some Golden Japanese Forest Grass. Only one sad little pot was available. I needed three. I convinced myself to wait until they had more in stock. The disappointment lead to one my impulse buy: tiarella wherryi or Wherry's Foamflower. Like the hellebores, the foamflowers are past their peak. In the picture posted, they look like a complete disaster. But I've done enough research on these plants to know that they too will be a great fit for my woodland garden. I've just got to give them a chance to settle into their new home and then wait for next year's show. more instant gratification for me. No more showy blooms for the sake of showy blooms. No more impulse purchases. The novice gardener in me was gone. I had evolved into a green thumb who researched garden conditions and plants, valued design, symmetry, texture, and fragrance. I was a gardener with a vision.

My mother came over to help me put some of my new purchases into the ground. To my secret delight, she thought the garden looked great. But she worried that my patch of backyard lawn would soon be overtaken by shrubs and trees and perennials. "That's exactly what I want," I told her. "It's all part of the plan."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you like Hellebores especially those with Green flowers - You have to see the Heronswood Nursery collection which includes Helleborus x hybridus 'Phoenix'. Masses of olive green flowers with a burgundy margin bloom in early March.