Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Texture and the Color Green

Green Composition

Paeonia veitchii in bloom

One of my most satisfying garden vignettes is pictured above. I love the textural combination of leaves, the various shades of green and the weed excluding, self sustaining massing of foliage. In the background is a Kirengeshoma; over to the left is Glaucidium; in the foreground and a little bit chlorotic is Primula kisoana; then on the right is a woodland peony, Paeonia veitchii. A bit of Epimedium is apparent and the thin leaves are a couple of different species of Carex. This is all growing in the shade of a big white pine. To repeat myself from recent blogs, my overriding goal is to develop more stable plantings like this one that need almost no care, have interesting seasonal flowers and, most importantly, look good in green the rest of the year. And just for good measure I am throwing in a picture of that Paeonia veitchii in bloom. It lasts very briefly, so thank goodness the foliage is attractive.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Keeping up with the Weeds

This modestly assertive Veronica (upright blue flowers) is no match for the weeds. I should replace it with something more substantial.

I just spent about twenty hours over a three day week-end weeding, after which I would describe my gardens as "still weedy." It is the sort of frustration that makes me question my commitment to the scope and nature of the gardening I do at home. It also makes me scrutinize my strategies. With gardens relatively massive in scope, like mine, weed minimization strategies are essential. My "meadow" planting (an experiment in said strategy) is depressingly weedy in spite of dense, mature plantings and frequent and thorough weedings in the past. This experiment in sustainable gardening has been revealing. I have heard speakers talk about their successful "meadows", but with my own experience in mind I would like to see in-person how they cope with persistent weeds like goldenrod, Canada thistle, quack grass, oxalis, etc. (I am developing a new approach in another bed.) In my more conventional mixed planting beds I notice that some big vigorous plants like Nepeta subsessilis, Euphorbia palustris, and my several Monardas have no weeds growing up through them. What I need to do is to better merge my perennials into a continuous, weed excluding mass. It is actually a fairly small list of desirable perennials that have good weed exclusion properties. A look back at my meadow demonstrates that fact convincingly. Another strategy, of course, is to have gardens small enough that keeping up with the weeding and mulching is manageable. I can't bring myself to scale down. There is just too much to learn from my far flung gardening efforts, and since I am usually desk bound at Kingwood Center I don't get my gardening fix at work like I used to.