i cannot continue this ‘heirloom plant’ saga without mentioning a classic southern
spring combination… the very-pink spreader creeping along walls and red-dirt banks
is called”Thrift”( i believe it is a creeping phlox). so rugged and egalitarian, it appears
along the roadsides frequently, at an old cabin or around a high-dollar iron gate; along
with the host of common daffodils, it it the first spring color we see. people often find
thrift’s color garish and bright, but after the evergreens of winter, my hungry eyes seek
out the blast of color. it is the harbinger of spring in the piedmont region here in upper-
middle GA. also the lemon yellow “ordinary” daffodils appear, yet another flower you
can usually find planted off in the woods defining an old homesite foundation.
the old folks knew that these two planted together, with simultaneous blooming
periods, would raise the spirits of the most winter-jaded soul.
this combination is so very common…i remember riding to see my grandparents
when i was little ( eons ago). i have a clear color memory of seeing the pair along
the banks and ditches and front yards of houses along the way.
the other southern classic combination planting, i call the “Three sisters”
( this term “classic”does not necessarily imply greatness, but frequency of use)
these heirloom shrubs, in bloom at the same time in middle- march, are spirea,
forsythia and quince, all ‘common’ varieties. this is another plant combination of
many an old homestead, mine included. i find it a good landscaping rule to grow
same-time blooming plants together, color harmonies can be very pleasing.
however, the sight of these alternating shrubs of yellow, white and deep rose-pink
does not really do it for me. there is no visual harmony here…more an annoying discord;
although not quite a clash, it seems obvious they are grouped by bloom timing, more
than true color considerations. on the other hand, these were the available landscaping
plants of the time, easily rooted or divided and passed on. our present sophisticated
color groupings and exotic cultivars are the result of years of plant improvements and hybridization.
at any rate, i wanted to give a picture that is repeated all over the south. hot pink
and clear yellow flowers; alternating white, rose and bright yellow flowering shrubs
in endless repetition.
although i speak of them as ‘old-timey’ combinations, i still see the Three sisters newly
planted in front of many recently built homes. old habits seem to die hard, and i suppose
that is what makes a classic….
next time: the side porch and the Southside pariahs…