Monday, June 16, 2008

Let's Talk Combinations

I'm no trained professional, that's for sure. I'm just some chick raised by a mom and grandma who love plants, who grew up to love plants, too. I've read tons of magazines and books on gardening in the last few years, but when I started my garden I worked on my own instincts, without a lot of knowledge. Sure, some editting has occured, "Well that hosta burried the columbines, so I better move em'?" For the most part, though, I like to keep some of my initial creations as I made them. They reflect who I was as a gardener at that time, and harmoniously have adapted to work together. If it's not obvious yet, I'm not a perfectionist. I read somewhere, "You can't be a perfectionist and a gardener." I've always reminded myself of this when some not-so-perfect things happen in the garden.

One of the first garden blogs I ever found ranted endlessly about how the colors of things didn't jive. She wasn't all negative, but mostly she proclaimed how awful this ended up looking with that, and so on. (I don't think she blogs anymore). I never saw 'it'; never understood that pink didn't jive with orange. I guess we had different color-pleasing pallettes? Maybe I'm a bit like Gertrude Jekyll (only a bit, I'm not that lucky), I put some pretty odd colors together and let them be. I'm darn right pleased by their clash. Nature does't "match," it's natural.

This natural approach works fine for me. I'm a plant collector. Eclecticism defines my garden beds. They're wild, and organized, and loosely planned. I have a sketch book, and I doodle ideas for tall plants for the back, and a few combination ideas here/there. I have to consider the size of things, but my plans fail to become what they were intended often as I get out in the dirt and engage my plants.

For example, last year I spent most of the summer digging out a huge perennial border that encompassed the whole back of our almost 1 acre lot. My husband has long since refused to remove grass or dig at all, so I was mostly on my own. When it came to filling in the bed I had a general plan. I did one spot at a time: I saw this towering bright cherry red flower in a perennial bed featured in a garden mag a few years ago. I decided to try to grow them from seed. I made one sturdy Maltese Cross plant, and stuck it behind some sedum 'Autumn Joy'. That same spring I figured out what the tall magenta flowers in some of the gardens in my town were-Bee Balm. I grew two dozen Bee Balm from seed, and bought two at the nursery, and smacked one down next to the Maltese Cross. Turns out the blue in the sedum leaves looks nice with the bright orange-red of the MC that's now blooming. In a week or two when the Bee Balm's blooming we'll see how this combo looks them. Not to far from this exact spot you would find purple liatris, lavender, and blue lobelia. It's a motely crew.

I was dividing and improvising last fall and plunked this heuchera down in front of a towering mum, and besides a 'Purple Palace' heuchera. That mum won't bloom for some time, but for not the green makes a nice backdrop for the coral bells blooms.

I love bright color combos. I just love color in general! I love purple with red. Here, I put Campanula 'Sarostra' with a red 'Mr. Licoln' rose, and a plum purple nicotiana. I love this combo, as it turns out. :)

Here, red 'Rocket' snapdragons are highlighted by hosta.

Step back a bit and just it front of the snapdragon there's rose dark salmon 'O'Rilla,' bright dark orange rose 'Morden Fireglow,' orange low growing snap dragons, and bright gold johnny jump ups. It's a like a fire.

I planted these years ago, and I'm learning to love them together. Bright pink 'John Cabot' roses with dark purple 'Elsa Spath' & 'Violet Charm' clematis. Both climbers are tangled with a mass of dark green leaved, bright orange flowered (not yet) Trumpet Vine. To add to the chaos, they're all
fronted by red 'Mr. Lincoln,' plum 'Heirloom,' and pale pink 'Vanilla Perfume' roses, fushia alllium, burgandy dianthus, light pink oriental lilies, lavender, mixed cosmos and blue delphinium--many of which are not blooming yet. It's not entirely pleasing, but it's a rainbow I created while learning.

A completely different color scheme frames the entrance to my veggie and herb bed. Here's Cl. rose 'Golden Showers' with golden oregano, greek oregano, and self-seeding German Chamomile.

A new combination I'm loving: these "annual" dianthus I planted 3 years ago come back over and over (they're almost evergreen when kept under the mulch). I put a pincushion 'Butterly Blue' in front of them, and they both float under rose 'Mr. Lincoln.'

Tickseed or Coreopsis pops above a sea of garden pinks.

Soon, dark red daylilies, orange-red cannas, and a mix of cosmos, zinnia will be behind this 'bowles golden' grass, and betwee the hostas and sedum.

So, do you embrace the chaos?
Have a great day gardening everyone!

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