Saturday, September 18, 2010
I go for the low-hanging fruit. A space by the fence needs a shrub: I’ve been planning it for a year. I take myself off to the big box store when it’s season left-over sale time and find a forsythia for some starkly low price. While I’m at it I see what else is for sale, and find two blue-flowering Plumbago for the price of one; and an attractive late-summer plant with tall purplish stalks called a Culver’s Root. These are plants I have known only from books. I end up leaving with the four perennials, two bags of dried manure and one heavy number of granulated lime for about the price of a decent forsythia. This sale business only encourages me. There’s hardly anybody else in the garden section. They must think the season’s over.
After a doldrums period, my plants – or my spirits – have picked up. The bicolored “garden phlox” – a medium tall perennial with light pink blossoms that keep on coming – has far outshone my earlier predictions and forms a center for a late-summer, early-fall flower focus. Beside it is a much lower daisy of the mum family, different from my other standard “garden mums” in its pale wild, scattered-looking leafs and its small pink flowers, which bloomed half-baked in August but are now coming in fully formed. It looks like the kind of plant you’d see in a rare sunny spot on a woodland path (if the deer didn’t eat them first). Between them the last of the bright red lobelia blossoms are hanging on. The color is extended by a late season floxglove, with a low stalk bearing white and pink trumpet-shaped flowers.
Gratified, I decide to work on this area, finding a place first for the Culver’s Root, in a spot where I cleared some ground a month before for some mistimed annuals. Out come the annuals, I dig a root ball hole, tossing out old roots – violet and queen anne’s lace among them – and settle in the new player. I liberate another spot next to the lobelia from the standard mix of overgrown ground cover, thick viney carpet cover and violets mostly, with some strands of vinca (but not enough to carry the space), and plant the two Plumbago side by side, adding a note of blue to the largely pastel ensemble.
Our two rose of Sharon bushes keep pushing out a few blossoms each, four on the pink plant today (I’ll stop predicting the end is near); and the violet anemone in full formation now is being joined by the first orange blossoms of one of those regulation garden mums.
That’s enough to keep me going for now.