This will be the last post of my stroll around my yard, and the many so-called
“problem” plants in the old landscaping around the house. it seems that nuisance
and problem are words applied primarily to a plant with aggressively spreading habits.
most people generally prefer gardens without this type of intruder. i have found,
over and over, that these are quite welcome used massed in a single bed, where
their beauty or fragrance can be appreciated, and mowing can curtail their spread.
again, it is a matter of getting used to some unruly habits, to enjoy growing them.
The entire north side of my house is shaded by huge privet trees. although that
side of the porch has been removed by some past owner, they line up, 4′ out,
defining the original lines of the old house. like the althea, i believe they were
originally put in as a hedge to shade, as well as to provide privacy
(hence the name privet!) along the wide porch. Coming originally from china,
privet (ligustrum) made its way to england’s formal gardens. it makes a lovely
pruned hedge, or topiary in those cooler climes. very docile.
in this southern zone, it has made itself at home, copiously! the birds spread the
bluish berries everywhere, and privet sprouts are abundant. it is probably the
most cursed weed-plant in the south. mowing, or yearly attention to
pulling the seedling plants are best defense, extreme vigilance is called for!!
a neglected old homestead can quickly become lost in privet overgrowth.
i live with it along the fencerows here as an inevitable presence. the majestic
20′ trees alongside the house could possibly be removed with a backhoe,
but each root or cutback stem left will sprout many new branches. i have reached
a truce with it out of necessity.
in the eastern light, between two dug-from-the-woods old dogwoods, i have a
bed of Bee-balm, or monarda. the beautiful ruby red flowers make a nice show
in the half- shade, but like its cousins–the mints– it will soon overtake a bed of
even the toughest perennials. its rhizomes creep just like the mints’, and the patch
gets bigger and bigger. it is much better used in a woodsy massed bed, where
you will find hummingbirds and butterflies galore. Bee-balm is also a medicinal
wildflower; native americans used it for both fevers and sore throats and another
common name is “Oswego tea”. one more colorful plant that provides an explosion of
growth from a small start!
at the corner of the old heartpine structure that serves as the garage and catch-all
storehouse, i planted another gift from a friend’s grandmother’s garden.
i have always called it winter hazel, as its flowers resemble the wild witch hazel
in the north Ga. mountains. however, it is related to the honeysuckle, the south’s
favorite perfumed summer plant. its habit is upright, the arching branches form a
shape much like a forsythia shrub. the small creamy flowers appear in january.
nothing smells better than its sweet lemony perfume in the air, in mid-winter.
winter or Christmas honeysuckle (lonicera fragrantissima) is another invader.
like a specimen forsythia left to itself, the long arcs of its branches form
a large,beautifully shaped plant, if given its own place.
mine has grown to about a 8×6′ shrub that is now moving down along the entire garage.
one must not be a die-hard pruner, for the winter buds are whacked away with the
cut-back branches, and its fragrance will be lost for the next season.
it is one of the first things i put in after moving here, and
i have NO regrets at all!
so i have come to the end of my observation of the old-timers and spreaders, the
perfumed and the beautiful, the elegant and the “common”-
the original landscape plants that have lived ( and spread) here for generations…
i have added a few things here and there to this mix, but this typical southern
landscaping came long before i was here and will remain for many many more years.
i like to think that the next occupant will be a good steward to these stalwart
shrubs and flowers, and have the patience to work with their unique beauty.
that’s it from patagonia farm– hope you enjoyed it….. vty j-lea