Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My love/hate relationship with Kniphofia

Kniphofia, aka Red Hot Pokers or torch lilies, have pretty much taken over a wide swath of my front garden. 

This is a plant that looks better in the catalog than the garden (at least, my garden.) I grew them originally because one of my favorite personages, Vita Sackville-West, liked them and grew them at Sissinghurst. I’ve decided to remove them, in large part because they are over-sized for the area they are in, they keep spreading, and the foliage is quite expansive. Being natives of South Africa, they demand plenty of space. The first batch I dug out was encroaching on a boxwood (to the left in photo above) and removing them was quite a chore. I was digging under the box before I got all the kniphofia roots.  I was fearful that kniphofia might be like yucca, which regenerates if even the smallest sliver of root is left in the ground. After about 2 weeks, I have seen no signs of new plants emerging. So far, so good. Kniphofia does make quite a statement--maybe I should try some in a large pot? Or give them their own bed at the end of the lawn?  They would look stunning growing with purple and gold bearded irises...

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Art of the Garden

Iris siberica and peonies welcome springtime visitors to our yard
I recently lamented to my daughter that I have not done any artwork lately,
or posted to this blog since March!
She said that gardening it art, too. There's truth in that.

Oriental poppies in languid profusion

 Gardening is not for those seeking instant gratification, however.
Like creating a painting or collage,
the Process is the engine that drives the beauty, 
and this takes time and effort.

Morning glories visiting sunflowers

 Last year during 3SIXTY5, my aborted (after 7 grueling months)
collage-a-day-for-a-year project, I tried to force my creative Process
and ended up relinquishing too much of the rest of my life.
Including tending my gardens during the 2010 season.

Hollyhocks, liatris and others in a cottage garden border

So this year I'm catching up. In addition to shovels, spades and sweat,
I've broken out the books, and I'm re-educating myself on
those principles of soil chemistry and plant care
without which no garden can look its best.

English daisies and pansies display perky personality
The beauty of the gardens will reward and refresh me.
I'll be ready, come the cold weather, to let my own creative juices flow again.

"The one art that everyone chooses, or feels in some degree qualified to practice, is paradoxically the most complex of combines aesthetic judgments with science and craftsmanship in a kaleidoscope of two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden. And yet on this flapping canvas [the gardener] tries to daub his vision of a better world..."
Hugh Johnson, The Principles of Gardening


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