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…
Chicago Garden says
It is funny what people in different regions consider common. I recently saw some potted Thrift plants and thought to myself: “I’ve got to get this for my garden.” and then I saw you link your post and followed it read that it is a common and garish plant.
i sort of explained my take on
“classic” and “common” in my post… both of these are
but we all know beauty is
in the eye of the beholder.
“common” is not meant to be
negative in any way; it indicates the plant is the first,oldest
or original type.
as for “classic”, i did use
it several times. in this
context, it means only
“from olden days” or
simply one of the most
i like thrift, it is
really nice in a sunny
rock-wall garden, if you
dont let it take over.
its hues are between pink
to reddish-purple…its the intensity of the color
that draws the eye.
Since I’ve lost all the thrift I ever had…no expert. 😉
Sometimes plant are valued for rarity, sometimes for looks, sometimes for sentiment, and sometimes for usefulness. I like your use of the word common, and think of it as “familiar” in my own lexicon.
I’ve been enjoying your walk through your yard, Joanne; it makes me think of the way people use plants and why. When first here, weigela, forsythia, and bridalwreath spirea were all jammed in one foundation area. They all were moved out into the property. But not removed 🙂
I remember planting oenothera speciosa and having it run amuck the next year, in three years it had disappeared.
Hey Chi-garden…go ahead and get it, who knows what part it will play on your own stage? Lights! Action!
…enter: teeny tiny thrift, Armeria maritima
or is it one of the OTHER species and subspecies?
…you know what? we might be talking about two different kinds of thrift… Latin rules for getting us on the same page.
Phlox subulata is called moss phlox here in my area, but I saw where it is called “thrift” elsewhere. The Armeria is called “thrift” up here in the land of the Yankee.
They both come in that bright pink color and are lowgrowing.
“Thrift” eh? Seen it but never heard it called that till now. You learn something new all the time. ;~)
southern “thrift” is phlox subulata. can sometimes be blue, but primarily THAT pink….northern “thrift”
which i grew in a rock garden
in ohio, is armeria–i think its
a relative of the dianthus, but
that’s off the top of my head.
it is interesting how similar
growth, similar purpose, similar
colored, different plants
can be called the same name. i wonder which reminded somebody of which? i am sure the common name travelled one way or the other….