Thursday, May 15, 2008

Spring...sweet spring

We've been out and about a lot looking at plant life (stores, woods, other people's gardens, etc). The fritillaries are really drawing me in this year. We saw, oh...must have been about a hundred of them...Frittilaria pudica on a sunny, rocky hillside near HWY 2, F melagris here in our own garden (e also have F. Persica, but it isn't in bloom this year, and possibly F raddeana if it lived, which I doubt), F. Imperialis and F. michailovskyi (I think) at the Healing Garden in Sandpoint. These are really enchanting little plants. I am thinking I'd like to have a small bed specifically for fritillaries and to try to collect as many as we can find. Since they only bloom in spring, I suppose we'd ether have to plant other bulbs or perennials, or perhaps a loose groundcover such as Vinca that they could push up through easily. Some that I haven't seen in person yet include F. pallidiflora, uva vulpis, acmopetala,and F verticillata (which strike me as especially interesting because it is a climbing fritillary with curling tendrils! How cool is that?)

Looking at other people's gardens on a regular basis (i.e., while driving or walking by) is useful because it gives one food for thought, a chance to see what you do and don't like. It is much better to observe results in someone else's yard if you can, than to unwittingly create another catastrophe or what I would call a "white bread" garden. I've decided I don't like the following :
  • Single plant width rows of any bulb, especially tulips
  • Plants massed right at the edge of the property in a meager little 12" wide bed.
  • Anything planted in single width rows, with the exception of espaliered fruit trees and trees planted as an allee`. Smaller things just look pathetic and pitiful in sparse, skimpy rows. Lilacs might work though, because they're full and billowing.
  • Roses spaced exactly so apart, more so if it is also a grid. If they're all the same height (24" -36") it becomes even more disgusting. Group them! Plant other things with them!
  • Most hanging baskets dripping with petunias. I sometimes do see one that I like. Red, white and blue color scheme hanging baskets are particularly nasty.
  • Prostrate or low growing evergreens planted at the edge of a lawn or corner, all by themselves, or right next to a building. They look shitty by themselves. They need the contrast of another shape nearby to give them character. This could be a columnar evergreen, a boulder, or another shrub or tree carefully selected. If they just perch there like that, all alone, they look like old scruffy doormats..even worse if some careless person has whacked them with the lawnmower or if grass has grown up through it.
  • Concrete landscaping blocks, statues, etc...except when such has been aged with mosses, weathering, etc. Colored concrete is, IMO, as trashy as you can get without succumbing to baling twine or old tires or plastic lawn ornaments.

Plants I am stilling looking for:
  • valerian
  • Lemon Gem type marigolds- the edible signet marigolds.
  • Corkscrew Corylus
  • Species clematis
  • comfrey (yes, comfrey)

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