Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tenacious Tip - It's Just One Plant

I’m finally calling it quits in the garden for the season. It’s too late to dig things up and move them and all the easy weeding and mulching is done. All that’s left is to wait for the dreaded first freeze to dig up the dahlias, glads and cannas and close up the pond.
Recently, after we finished up one last project (mulching a new path), we were lounging in the sun by the pond and it struck me. There was no color left in my garden. Oh, a few late cannas are still out there, with their bright red spikes, and a few black-eyed Susans, but nothing that really jumps out. It was so surprising that I walked around and took inventory to see if my eyes were deceiving me. Here’s what I found blooming, in no particular order:
  • Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (aptly named) and other sedums
  • Golden Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium ‘Aureum’)
  • Some self-seeded phlox
  • Black-eyed Susans
  • Three-leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia triloba)
  • Echinacea ‘Pica Bella’
  • Canna
  • Butterfly bush, multiple varieties
  • Coreopsis
  • Geranium ‘Rozanne’
  • Gaillardia
  • Sunflowers
  • Chrysanthemum ‘Matchsticks’
  • Roses
  • Balloon Flower
  • A very few re-blooming daylilies
  • Colchicum ‘Waterlily’
  • Several annuals, such as marigolds, celosia and salvia
What some of these fall flowers look like (because what is a garden blog without pictures?):

Butterfly Bush with companion


Geranium 'Rozanne'

New Garden Path (sorry about the shadow!)

That quite a list! So what’s wrong?  It seems I have finally reaped the results of being a plant collector. My philosophy for plant purchases is usually to check my database; if the plant isn’t listed, I must have it immediately. Does it matter whether it fits in my scheme? Not in the slightest. Do I even have room for it? Who cares? It’s just one plant.

It’s just one plant.
Perhaps you’ve heard/said/thought those words. These words are the downfall of many a gardener for a couple of reasons. If you have a small garden, those words signal the beginning of a more and more desperate search for space. Before long, every available surface is covered and the gardener is resorting to step-ladders and old bookcases to pile pots on. Every vertical post has plant hangers attached in all directions. Trust me, I’ve been there!
If you have a large garden, like me, these words mean real trouble. Trouble with your garden design, trouble with maintenance and trouble in your wallet.
Regarding design, I’ve noticed a lack of coherence, a certain air of chaos, even mayhem, in some places. Now I’m also seeing spotty seasonal color. Why? Too many individual plants and not enough unity. Yes, the singular plants and flowers are very beautiful, but can I appreciate them when they are only individuals spotted around the garden? Not so much. As the designers like to harp on, they would look much better in drifts and clusters, repeated throughout the whole plot.
So my project for the winter will be to pick out some favorites that I can use to make a theme and repeat them as I am renovating other areas. They needn’t even be fall-specific flowers; every season could use a bit of harmony. For example, many of my daylilies need dividing. Instead of replanting just one clump, I could plant several; just think what a statement a large mass of Strawberry Candy would make!

Daylily 'Strawberry Candy'

I’ll have to be careful to save space for onesies and twosies, though. I don’t think I could give up my collector impulses without therapy!

Just FYI, with the season closing in, the Tuesday Tip feature is moving to a more generic When-I-Feel-Like-It Tip feature, though I'll try to keep it weekly. Sorry for the lack of entries for the past few weeks - hubby and I both came down with colds! We're both feeling much better now and back to our usual foolishness!


NHGarden said...

Oh I hear you about being a plant collector :) Nice photos!

Indie said...

Plant collecting is my trouble as well! I try to buy three of whatever plant it is to help the design issues - but for many plants my wallet can't take the hit. I try to at least group by color to help it :)

At least our plants are well-loved, right?

Sharie said...

Thanks, Chris! You had some gorgeous shots lately yourself!

Indie, thanks for the fave at blotanical - much appreciated! And, yes, they are loved, when I remember where I put them! LOL!

The Sage Butterfly said...

Like you, I find myself not noticing as many blooms as usual at this time of year. And your new path is gorgeous!

Sharie said...

Thanks, Michelle! We really needed to finish that area - it was all mud and the dog ran through it on her way to do her business. It will look better next year when I get some plants along it.

Anonymous said...

I just moved potted house plants back inside after having them on my porch all summer.

I have a young gardenia that flourished over the summer, but now new growth is rather scraggly. Do you or anyone else have any tips for pruning/shaping it over the winter? Thank you -JJ

Gabrielle/Flowerbulbcrazy said...

just found U! Like your thoughts & photos!
I am a flower collector as well- it gets difficult!!

Lynn said...

So true! I am guilty of being a collector too. And I have reached the point where I have no more space but few areas that are cohesive and have a real impact. I am in the process of "renovating" my garden.