Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Compulsive Gardener

There’s a huge pile of plants in my driveway. Amongst the crowd are three Lindera benzoin or spicebushes, a plant I’ve been threatening to get for a decade, mostly for it’s fall color, but also because I pride myself on having a lot of early blooms for my bees even if they’re fairly subtle, like the lindera. Plus it’s also the preferred food choice of the black and blue spicebush swallowtail butterfly larvae, and since I’m trying to bring more wildlife into my garden, it really deserves a place in the garden. I also found two Ilex verticillata or winterberry at the same 50% off nursery sale and seeing as I’ve raved about those for years, but didn’t own any, they had to take the ride to my house as well. And there are three yellow Exbury azaleas in the pile, a plant I’ve longed for and lusted after ever since I saw them in their full glory at Winterthur, but couldn’t justify before my deer fence came into my life, since it really is adored by the creatures for snacking.

Of course, one of the reason these plants are still in a pile in the driveway is that two tiny, fluffy deer have figured out how to belly slid under my back gate whenever they feel like it and are demoing the place, so I’m working on how to deer proof the thing before I just had these lovely snacking morsels our to my two new friends. The other reason these plants aren’t planted yet is a little more complicated. I don’t know where I’m going to plant them.

There, I’ve admitted it. Part of the reason I garden is to find a place to put the plants I buy.  For me, one of the joys of gardening has to be the pleasure of trolling through a nursery and finding a great plant at a great price. Like the Acer japonicum 'Aconitifolium' for that I found at the same plant sale for under $40 thus providing me with a great excuse to finally have one of my own. Or finding the hellebores at Whole Foods that were on sale for $8.00 when all the local nurseries were selling them for $24.00, a very justifiable excuse for getting 9 of them.

But if I’m really truthful, I just enjoy shopping.  I always have. Whether it’s art books or shoes or creamy tubes of oil paint or engraved French monkey prints, the process of ferreting out, narrowing your choice down and then plunking money down to own is exciting.  Of course with shoes, it’s easier, they live in their boxes until it’s time to show them off like the black kid Mary Janes with the rhinestone high heels and the jet bead embroidery on the toes that made an appearance at Ashley’s wedding.

Plants, well they’re a little tougher to squeeze in. I confess that I just recently found some pictures of my garden from when I first purchased it, and yes, I most certainly guilty of planting too many things way too close together. I most definitively did not leave room for these plants to grow. I left some room, but I really wasn’t thinking 15 years down the line.  I know better. I really do, it’s how I make my living, and I’m much better at steering clients towards a plan and not just taking them on a crazed shopping spree, but I could never do it myself. 

If I had to plan where the Chaenomeles speciosa 'Orange Storm' would go, I’d be stuck. I don’t really need it, I actually don’t really need any more plants, I haven’t for a while, but I want it. It has beautiful double orange flowers. Who cares that there’s not a place for it in the garden yet? I still need to work some oakleaf hydrangeas into this garden, and I have no bayberry or blueberries, plants I lecture about using constantly as they’re both fantastic.

Now if I can just figure out where to put the Cedrus libani a good friend gave me. It’s only a baby now, about a foot high, but a true Cedar of Lebanon will grow into a magnificent, enormous, soaring evergreen approximately 140’ tall. Simple to site, right? Hahahahaha. Whoops sorry, lost control there for a moment. Look, I know that wherever I put this tree it’s going to eventually take over, I inherited a copper beach with my house that suddenly, after 15 years, has decided to grow like it’s a white pine on steroids. It definitely needs pruning, as do a bunch of things, while others need transplanting, i.e. all the mophead hydrangeas that under skirted the hydrangea paniculatas and weigelas behind the garage, but that’s the way I like to garden. Impulsively, compulsively and with the knowledge that there’s always room for more.

Paige Patterson has three boxes of bulbs sitting on her front porch just waiting to be planted, oh and more on the way.

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