Monday, February 3, 2014

A white flower - devil or angel?


It was windy and weirdly warm yesterday afternoon when I got out of the car at the farm.  I wanted my dog to get some exercise by running over the fields, and I wanted to check out the area within the large fenced-in vegetable garden where I hope to have a cutting garden.

I've been looking through photographs recently (I'm up to over 23,000, which is ridiculous; I could spend a couple of months deleting and culling pictures - if only I'd done it all along!).   I'm looking for  flowers that are good for cutting.

I took this photograph in a garden which was very popular back in the 1990's.  It was on several tours, and we taped an episode of A Gardener's Diary on HGTV there.  I would visit often, because the garden's creator always had something wonderful going on.  She was a genius at plant combinations. That was the days of taking slides, so that is what this is - a not so clear slide that has been converted to digital.

Still, I like looking at this combination.  In front is gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides).  I was looking at the light pink flower in back and assumed it was a peony.  But, it took me a couple of seconds to realize this couldn't be.  Gooseneck loosestrife blooms in June, well past the time when the peonies are finished here.

I now remember that it was a very light pink mophead hydrangea, something I've always been seeking. A friend brought me a bouquet from her garden which contained such a flower.  She rooted it for me, and I kept it in a container so it wouldn't touch the acidic ground and turn blue.  Mine is pink, but much darker.

But back to the gooseneck loosestrife.  This is a flower which spreads by rhizomes and can take over an area in one season, crowding out other plants.  I once observed an entire bank of the flower in Asheville, N.C., and even though the owner was complaining about the plant, I was slightly envious.  This is a great cut flower and looks so good with other flowers that bloom in June.

I had the plant at one time, but I couldn't get it established.  So, I'm willing to try again and see if I can get it to grow, knowing I may have to pull it out if it starts misbehaving.

There are several flowers that you want to stay away from.  The red and green alstroemeria is too difficult to get rid of if you ever get that started.  It forms tiny bulblets that multiply quickly and ruin flower beds.  Still, that's a great cut flower, too, but probably too dangerous for a controlled landscape.

So, I'm compiling a list, and for June I'm going to include gooseneck loosestrife.  Some people would consider it a weed and a thug, but I believe (I may be wrong) that I can keep it tamed and enjoy some beautiful early summer bouquets.  I'll let you know if this is a devil or an angel.


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