I was reading the introduction of an embroidery book yesterday morning which really spoke to my inner gardener, as much as my embroidery self. The book, Needlework Antique Flowers by Elizabeth Bradley is from the early 1990s and belonged to a former member of my Embroiderers Guild who sadly died earlier this year. I love ‘old’ embroidery books as they often have real instructions on all sorts of lost stitches and techniques. This book is about woolwork which is essentially like tapestry by done with cross stitch instead of tent stitch. Anyway, I digress, the thing that struck a chord with me was the following comment from the author:
“Modern gardeners and gardening writers seem to fall loosely into two schools. The first are plantsmen whom I greatly admire. They really know their charges, can remember their Latin names however often they change, and thoroughly understand what each plant needs to thrive. Their gardens, although often beautifully designed and laid out, differ from others by their plants also growing perfectly, each well staked and with enough space around it so that it can grow properly and be seen to best advantage…..I as a gardener, fall into a second category that can only be described as the school of enthusiastic amateurs. I love my plants and know most of their names but just will not make the time to really find out what is necessary to get best out each.”
The reason this struck a chord with me is I often like to think of myself as a plantsmen, although I recognise I am being a little presumptive. Some gardening friends seem to think I am very knowledgeable ad plants (if they read this blog they would know I can’t remember one name from one week to another) and I do research what conditions my plants need but I fail completely when it comes to showing my plants perfectly so they can be seen to the best advantage.
Maybe this passage was in my mind when I spent some time on Sunday morning tackling the big border. What started out as a little dead-heading quickly become more involved and the large red opium poppy was dug up. Its huge leaves have been smothering so many other plants and I have decided that it is just to substantial for the border, which I am trying to focus more on grasses, bulbs and grassland plants. The poppy has been cut back hard and potted up ready to be planted out in the front garden, as part of the editing work that needs to take place. The camassia foliage has added to the problem as the leaves are dense, sword like and long and when it rains are flattened down on new foliage from other plants which are trying to grow; so they too are being edited. The alliums suffered the most from the suffocating foliage and were growing almost horizontally with weird kinks in their stems. So……
…each allium ended up with its own stake – how mad is that! I think this must surely be the way to madness. The lesson I take away from this is to plant alliums amongst less dominating plants.
Whilst, I aspire to show each of my plants to their best advantage, because of my preference for well filled borders I don’t think I will ever grow my plants “with enough space around it so that it can grow properly” .