The human brain has mechanisms that help it work more efficiently, but those same things also create certain ruts in our thinking and perceptions. It would be very inefficient to approach all experiences as if they were new every time. Yet, that is what we must do if we are to be creative. What to do? That is where our interdependency steps in. What one has experienced is not at all the very same in all respects to what another has experienced. The difference between the two creates a fresh perspective. This became evident today when I garnered a new idea for a plant combination while visiting other blogs.
Reading through, and studying the photos, (yes I do that!) @A Study in Contrasts by Blackswamp girl, Kim, I found a new way to look at a pair of plants, variegated sedum and lady’s mantle.
Kim is a color artist with plants. Her blog is full of detailed descriptions of plants grown together for visual effect, and like her blog name suggests she favors contrast. But in this case, she has a subtle range of color with more of the contrast contained within form and texture than in color. This is perhaps why I like it so well. I have both of these plants growing in my garden, and love both of them. They are in proximity, but my eye -grown used to my own garden- did not pick up how well they look in close combination. I made up my mind to give this pair a try in a number of places. It took someone else’s view to give me a new perspective on visualizing how plants that do well in my own garden might be placed to better effect.
Now. Why might I have overlooked these two as potential partners? For the same reason someone might want to take care in their growing conditions. The two overlap in what they will tolerate, but are not precisely the same in their favored culture. (I suppose you can take that for an allegory, too).
Lady’s Mantle, Alchemilla mollis prefers part shade location, while Sedums of all types thrive in full sun. This one, Sedum alboroseum ‘Mediovariegatum’ (at least that is the type growing in my garden), does do a bit better in less sun to keep from bleaching out; the part sun intensifies the variegation to more closely match the chartreuse of the Lady Mantle flowers. The Alchemilla also prefers more moisture than the Sedum, which will tend to grow lush and then flop if given too much moisture. The A.mollis, however tolerates a bit of dryness, and that is where these two overlap and are happy: part sun, well drained soil with normal fertility and moisture. The A. mollis is said to be hardy to USDA zone 4, and the BBG says that the Sedum is only hardy to zone 6, but I beg to differ. Mine is quite hardy to what is sometimes a dip to zone 4 temperatures, but clearly in zone 5a. I think what is likely the difference for me is the dryness of our late summer. It creates a toughness for the dessicating winds of winter, and I tend to leave the stalks in place to catch the winter’s snow- perhaps that gives the plants a bit more cover.
However it is, both grow well in my garden, although the sedum is my all round champ when it comes to giving a good show in demanding conditions, the Alchemilla has also done well. Kim is farther north than me, but her area is moister and more moderate; she is also a city gardener, that might mean more smog, but less extremes in temperature. (Those city sidewalks and houses that act as windbreak to hold the temperatures in check).