Plants donâ€™t bring out the five-year-old in me any more. I
was looking at the newest and hottest offerings of 2010, according to the
Garden Center Magazine, and the first thing I saw was an image of â€śHot Lavaâ€ť echinacea.
Â Then there was the â€śJersey
Earlybird Cardinalâ€ť hemerocallis, and then the heuchera â€śBerry Smoothieâ€ť caught
my eye. (Some of the new heuchera foliage is brighter than most flowers.) Â
I donâ€™t mean to pick on these plants in particularâ€”a lot of them are really coolâ€”but every
year I seem more able to resist them. Once I yearned for these delightfulÂ rarities; now I tend to pass them by.
There seem to be five or more stages of plant geekdom. They
vary from gardener to gardener, but here were mine, as a partial to full shade
Stage one: Â All
I wanted was huge swathes of constantly blooming flowers. Most of them were
pink. Or blue. Or one of the latest, greatest, new introductions.
Stage two: Those flowers, most of which required the exact
opposite conditions of what exists on my property, died.Â I wised up, just a bit, and looked for
plants that would survive in my conditions, but still with flowers the primary
Stage three: I began to focus on groundcovers and bulbs,
which seemed to provide as close to a win/win as I would get. I entered bulb
geekdom, learning about the species and the ephemerals.
Stage four: Â Finally I begin to collect more interesting shade perennials
that flower in spring. I had ignored these in the past because spring here
barely existsâ€”we move right into summer. Nonetheless, I got into hellebores,
Stage five: I have now â€ścollectedâ€ť as many interesting
plants as I can, and can barely shoehorn in one more hellebore or epimediumâ€”not
even a tiny erythronium tuber. I am seriously considering pulling out a couple
beds and doing the whole thing over again, resisting the urge to collect, using
more of the same plants, and thinking more astutely about design issues.
There is probably a full-sun version of this. I’m guessing many of you have your own versions. Is there a lesson to be learned from it all?