first, i must explain that i don’t have a digital camera. i use my
old minolta 35mm with complete satisfaction, and have been
photographing my farm,
and its many residents of all kinds for years. i don’t have have a
scanner either, nor the inclination to go through the many
dusty boxes of photos, looking for that perfect picture…
i guess this is somewhat of an apologia. most garden blogs i look at
are filled with beautiful pictures; ilona has a great photographic eye,
and she inspires me…
however, i must paint my pictures with words, as that is all i
have to work with. my posts would be less long-winded if i had
a good picture to be worth these “thousand words.”
this early AM i was out foliar- feeding the bonsai, after a good hard
stormy rain yesterday.
much needed, as we can easily slip into a drought this time of year.
although i began this piece of writing thinking of ‘problem’ plants,
i have realized that the point is more that these enduring
old-timers were the foundation plants ages back, and still ARE!
they have persisted into these modern times with grace and beauty.
as i said last post, we have the luxury of many new, improved varieties
to work with in our gardens these days: new flower forms and colors,
as i watered the little trees, i realized that the many ‘common’ cultivars
[ ancestors to these new hybrids] around this old house were already here,
and will remain long after i am gone.
under all my small and fanciful additions, and improvements, these flowers,
trees and shrubs remain the backbone of the landscape.
they are not really nuisances at all– if you can reach a truce with their
I have only one shrub, and one “nuisance” bed of wildish flowers on the
south-facing side that best fit this narrative….a large rock terrace runs
around the front, along the south side, and curves around the huge
trunk of a post oak that was growing before the small cabin [first here]
vanished into the county doctor’s remodel, in 1901. this terrace helps to
level the foundation slope and sets the house up from the dirt drive. the entire
wall along the driveway is covered with a dense thicket of ‘chinese’ or winter
jasmine. it is a short running shrub with fine foliage, arching
branches and yellow jasmine-type flowers in january. it is often mistaken
for unseasonal forsythia blooms, but it is a bright spot in deepest wintertime
it is not a true jasmine, but is named for the flower shape…it is evergreen and
has no fragrance to speak of. it needs no care, or clipping-unless desired-
and stays pretty much within bounds, as long as no other plants are desired near it.
they will be quickly submerged by the intertwined branches. my dogs have made
a long cool summer “cave” underneath it ; no light penetrates its thickness.
i suppose that would be called “invasive” but just like mint or lemon balm[melissa]
if boundaries are made, it stays put within them. chinese jasmine is excellent
for holding an sloping bank in place , once it has settled in well. my rock wall is
entirely bound together with it, and will never crumble or fall down.
my other south-side wild-child arrived unexpected in what used to be an large
oval bed i dug out of the yard, next to the vegetable garden. i planted taller
things, to be seen from a distance: double orange day lilies, echinacea, both
pink and white, deep pink cleome, white phlox, rose hollyhocks and
the giant cobalt-blue salvia [guarantica]. along with some scattered-in
annuals seeds, i had a great bed of butterfly and hummingbird
flowers that was beautiful to behold.
a year or two after, i was given a pot of swamp sunflowers by an elderly gardener
at the Garden club plant sale. she had been cleaned out of most all her other plants,
but had several pots of this left. i should have noticed that point. nobody else wanted
them. the gift of a plant for sale should have been another heads-up.
there are several swamp sunflowers, all wildflowers, i believe, classified mostly by
height, as they look very similar. their botanical names [helenium, or heliopsos]
both”sun-lover” words. all are spreading and VERY invasive, and gorgeously gold in
the october sun.
within a season, one gallon pot had overtaken a third of my flowerbed. over
summer they grew to 6-8 feet and were so glorious a fall flower show that i didnt
really mind. by next summer they had pretty much over-run the entire bed, and
shaded out the other perennial stragglers. year to year now, i enjoy a huge oval full
of tall brilliantly shining sunflowers, with neighbors driving by and commenting on
starts are gladly given, with dire warnings….
but now, i am glad to have such a massed large bed of fall color in the lawn,
and the bees and butterflies love them too. this is a classic example of a plant
flourishing when it finds “its place”. although i suspect this wild-child nuisance
could make itself at home anywhere it’s planted.
even as aggressive as it can be, i highly recommend it— BY ITSELF!