Monday, June 20, 2016

First Day of Summer: Fiddling Around the Edges

Having absented myself for two weeks of the rapid-growth period in late May and early June, it's now clear that I will never catch up this summer to what the forces of nature and the Darwinian energies of green plant life have offered up this year. I'm just trimming around the edges.
            I can't remember a year when the perennials -- and the weeds (perennial, all right, in their own way) -- have covered every inch of ground devoted to planting space so quickly and then started in on the so-called paths, the dedicated people space that in theory allows us to walk around and look at what's growing. And even the pavement, where a semi-centimeter of space between stones or bricks has become living room for opportunistic seeds and roots.
            Maybe it's the bounce-back effect of a mild year following a cold year. The winter of two years back (2014-15) stayed cold so long that green growth started a full month later than usual. Last winter was considerably milder. Spring started sooner and every plant that grows in Quincy threw itself into a mad race to get there first.
            Weeds worked hard to stay a step ahead of the tall-growing perennials. Between the two of them, I'm worried about the little guys. The low-growing ground-covers and small-leafed spring bloomers that add variety to the plant mix and deserve a place in the sun. The Mazus, chased away by the long snow last year, faced a tough fight trying to regain some lost ground this year. Thyme plants and other Steppables that I planted a decade ago are facing a crunch. They're like the local saving and loan, the mom and pop grocery, trying to keep going when the big banks and national chains come to town.
            More striking still than the tyranny of the large over the small are the encroachments of ever-expanding plant colonies on the paths I labored to secure a few years back, when I still some big flat rocks to work with, plus the pieces of mal-adapted roof slates we stole from a dumpster around the same time.
            Prominent among the expanders is a tall grassy plant sold perhaps as an 'ornamental grass,' when 'rapacious conqueror' might be a better name. (It's sold as northern sea oats.) I introduced it into some spots a few years ago under the impression that I needed something with roots to hold down some bare ground, hard to even imagine the need for this now. The plant takes everything you give it, and then it takes what you gave its neighbors. It's closing over a path now that I once topped with gravel. I used gravel a sort of decorative topping, icing on a footpath. But if you don't put your stone down thick as a brick, plants such as this one will summon dirt (don't ask me how) to cover your gravel, turn it into mush, and sink their roots into the resulting slurry.
            Then we come to the tall rapacious "loosestrife" -- that I believe to be Lysimachia vulgaris, though 'strife' sounds right and I have let it loose -- that is consuming the middle of the perennial garden. It took a hunk of footpath there last year. If I don't make it stop this year, there may soon be an ocean of long-stemmed reddish-purplish wilders choking our brave green continent from sea to sea.
            While this may sound like ungrateful complaining, the aesthetic wildman inside me enjoys contemplating the overgrowth, the abundance, the brilliant symphonic mess of many plants seeking a place in the sun, merging their shapes, colors and flowers into a great dance of the plant kingdom as if evolution itself threw the seeds of generations upon the ground and said, 'OK, guys, go at it."
            And actually, maybe that's what happened.
            In the photos posted here we have, from top down: 
garden geranium in the foreground; 
a blue medium height phlox in foreground, low campanula in the background;
blue ansonia;
pink coral bell flowers in the foreground, campanula in the background;
pink lamium (dead nettles) in the foreground, goat's beard in the background;
stalks of purple sage in the background, a light yellow lady's mantle flowering below;
and the yellow flowers of achillea (or yarrow) rising above the vinca and pachysandra. 
            ... anyway here are some photos.