Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Remember Jeep (and Anemone nemorosa 'Bracteata Pleniflora')

The above clump of Cardamine trifolia represents seven years of growth.

I planted three Anemone nemorosa 'bracteata pleniflora eight years ago. Here they are today. Now that is slow! Click on the picture to get a better view of the amazing flowers.

Although I am not a particularly organized person I have had considerable enjoyment from records I kept of the plants I acquired in the twelve years I have been gardening at my current home. I refer back to those records on a regular basis for many reasons. For example, I photographed a clump of Cardamine trifolia this spring that I seem to have had forever, and yet it is still a smallish clump. A quick search found that I bought it from the now defunct version of Heronswood Nursery seven years ago, so look at the picture and judge for yourself, but I think that is one slow growing groundcover! Another photograph this spring evoked a similar curiosity. My Anemone nemorosa 'Brachteata Pleniflora' (which I coincidentally also bought from Heronswood)has finally emerged from the status of a tiny little whisper of plants to an actual clump (see image above). That bit of progress took eight years.

I also enjoy reminiscing over plants that are no longer with me because they didn't survive(it's a humiliatingly large number), or because I had to frantically eradicate them (e.g. Campanula punctata, Salvia forskaohlei, and Knautia macedonica come to mind), because they were taking over the garden. It is also interesting to see the relative success I have had with various nurseries. I recently observed, for example, that while I have acquired some particularly unusual and successful plants from one specialty nursery, which is famous for letting you figure out for yourself where their plants will grow, a large majority of the plants I bought from them did not make it. I decided that their already high cost was too high when the attrition rate is factored in. I have also found the records to be particularly satisfying in reminding me of those special plants that have been given to me and have found a suitable home in my garden. I like to remember the people and the friendship when I think of their plants. Sometimes it is years before I realize I want to buy more of a particularly successful plant, so it is useful to know where I bought them originally, and when I lose the labels I have at least a fighting chance of figuring out what the full name of the now unidentified plants are. Record keeping may be a bore, but these records of mine have expanded my gardening pleasure and success significantly.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Remembering Belly Plants

Primula marginata

Corydalis solida 'Blushing Girl'

Diphyllea sinensis

Deinanthe caerulea

Large sweeps of bulbs and big perennial borders are impressive and something to be proud of if you created them yourself, but there is a special place in my sense of satisfaction for the many small and demure plants that reward looking closely especially in intimate spaces. This spring my thrill for the understated is with a new (for me)primrose, Primula marginata . It bloomed for the first time recently in my rock wall. The color, the survival of a new plant, the successful colonization of my rock wall, and the fact that it was a new species for me all contributed to my pleasure, in addition to its beauty. Last year it was Corydalis solida 'Blushing Girl' and the fruit of Diphylleia sinensis, the year before I recall Deinanthe caerulea.

I am reminded of the enthusiasm my fellow botany students and I had on field trips for what we called belly plants, those plants that were so small we had to get on our bellies to enjoy them. These garden plants aren't tiny like belly plants, but they certainly evoke a similar sort of appreciation.