Sept. 1, 2010
Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I have a secret politically incorrect horticultural hobby. I call it the Johnny-Appleseed-City-Project and it is most emphatically not endorsed, sponsored or even approved of by this newsletter, club or blog. I scatter flower seeds where there were none before. And I do not pay attention as to whether they are native or not: pokeweed, Joe Pye weed, sweet Cecily, phlox, columbine, lilies, beebalm, milkweed, wild geraniums, morning glories, rose-of-Sharon and others. There ARE rules: no neighbor's yards, no parks, no nature preserves. Certainly no place where anyone is trying to restore (futilely, in my view) a pre-colonial ecology. Only plant in wastelands - dusty dry back alleys, vacant lots, wrecked factory campuses and the like. I have found & planted a scrub woods on a deserted railroad spur behind an isolated mega-store; I've found & planted the back end of a parking lot behind a dead strip mall; I've found a whole series of burned-down, knocked-down buildings. They'll all be blooming years from now. No, I don't do buckthorn or purple loosestrife but I am following in a certain anarchistic tradition. In England in Victorian times after a certain Mrs. Wilmont visited friend's gardens they later found an incredible flower growing. That plant is now called "Mrs. Wilmont's Ghost." To any who read this and are tearing out their hair in p.c. anguish, get over it. We're all emigrants. Are you going to banish or send home hostas, cedars of Lebanon, wheat, rice, roses, day-lilies, dandelions, dill, Chinese dogwoods et. al., et. al.? Not to mention, by the way, us? Make the deserts bloom.
Once you get over the drama of sending your former shade plants into exile (because of a sudden shocking loss of shade) it can get sort of interesting putting in replacements: the ferns are all going off to an old friend with a shady yard. As ferns go out in go white coneflowers, purple sedums, pink beebalm, and Russian sage. Soon to go in: enormous so-called tree lilies, maybe agastache, hollyhocks, yarrow and salvia. Do we have a plan? We don' do no stinkin' plans! Well, the plan is - if it lives & doesn't look quite right, move it or give it away. Hmm, could I fit in a miniature Japanese Maple or a chartreuse sumac? Should I plant out the largish boxwood (saved from destruction next door)? Should I set up a super grow light situation to try to save one of my pond's tropical water hyacinths? When should I tip over the potted amaryllis (bought 5 for a buck at an estate sale) to put in the basement? Should I clip back & pot up the 2 pink mandavilla vines in the yard? (One is blooming on my top deck climbing up the gilded Japanese-style cross beams I put on the peak of my building.) Should my gardening friend Lucy & I take over the branch of the local garden club that managed to flub up and skip our neighborhood's having a garden walk? An interesting winter looms.