Thursday, August 4, 2011

Perfect Partners for Summer

Perfect Pairs
When perfectly matched plants bloom together in the garden, I feel thoroughly satisfied. Sometimes I’ve planned a winning combination, but just as often, purely by chance, a stray seedling pops up right beside the ideal partner. Either way, here are some terrific pairings for midsummer.
I’ve always adored ‘Strutter’s Ball’ daylily. The wine flowers have the texture of velvet—I would love to have a jacket just like this. ‘Xenon’ sedum, with thick, waxy leaves of an even deeper burgundy, is a great companion, and sets buds just about when the daylily finishes blooming. Soft pink flowers arrive in late summer, lasting into fall. To cap off this combination,‘‘Madame Julia Correvon’ clematis scrambles through ‘Winter Fire’ cistus, an evergreen shrub which anchors the bed. ‘Madame Julia’ is a lively red-pink, echoing the central wine blotch in the heart of the cistus flowers, as well as the daylily flowers, and the sedum foliage.
Just when everything was coming together so well, ‘Lucifer’ crocosmia seeded itself into the composition for a hideous color clash. I guess I was feeling too cocky, so this blast of in-your-face orangey-red came along to humble me. If it weren’t for the hummingbirds that sip from Lucifer’s flowers, I would yank him out. But mercifully, the hummingbirds have saved him from shovel pruning.
In another bed, even after removing every shred of ‘Lucifer’ from a bed near the side path where colonies leaned and sprawled every summer, dozens of seedlings sprouted right cross the path, defying me. At first I was plenty mad, thinking, How could they, but this morning when I spent a good five minutes watching a very happy hummingbird drink her ‘Lucifer’ lunch, I changed my mind and decided it was all for a good purpose. Sometimes it’s OK to give up control and let the plants have their way. The garden is not just about my will. Please remind me of this resolution the next time I go on a mission to hunt and destroy.

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