Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Wildflower Wednesday~Back To The Beginning
Two dozen years ago we moved to what has since been christened~ Clay and Limestone Garden. Long time readers know that the relationship between garden and gardener has been a passionate affair...filled with moments of deep love and equally deep despair.
It took a long time for me to accept the limitations and gifts of the shallow, clay soil that is as dry as concrete most summers and wet and sticky all winter. (here for more of the story)
Even in the face of over whelming evidence that wildflowers naturally occurred and thrived here, I tried to create an English cottage garden, a Mediterranean garden and a New England woodland. They were failures and sorely tried my patience!
In my haste to create these idealized dream gardens ...I had over looked the abundant native x-asters, columbines, trout lilies, trilliums, mayapples, downy woodmint, penstemons, dicentras and a host of other beauties that grew here~~ naturally. It was a wonderful day when I stumbled upon Thomas Hemmerly's Wildflowers Of The Central South. I've never had the honor of meeting Dr Hemmerly, but, he became my garden mentor for understanding and appreciating the special native plants that grow in Middle Tennessee. He introduced me to our soil, micro-climate adaptations, Ordovician limestone and the stark beauty of a cedar glade.
He helped me put all the pieces together; to understand that my little bit of the garden wasn't ever going to be a garden that could rely completely upon introduced species, whether native to the US or from across the ponds. Once my eyes were opened, it was easy to see that the garden supported abundant wildlife
indigenous wildflowers, naturalized flowers like Queen Anne's Lace and carefully chosen exotics/introduced species.
In those early day of gardening and wishing and hoping for a beautiful magazine garden, I fell for daylilies. Those first loves always have a special place in our hearts and daylilies still do. But, my head and heart were quickly filled with all things wildflower. I devoured articles about native plants, visited cedar glades, read botany articles and every book I could lay my hands on that discussed gardening in the Central Basin. Before long, it became clear to me and my gardening pals, that wildflowers had become my garden soul mates~
Wildflower Wednesday started out as a regular post to celebrate the wildflowers in my garden. It's been a fun way to introduce you to my soul mates! I treasure them and love sharing them. They grow with ease if planted in the right spot and they draw native fauna, like bees, birds and butterflies to the garden. There are articles all over the Internet extolling their virtues. You've read many, I'm sure! Here's how I sum it up~Native wildflowers are good for the earth and good for its inhabitants.
Wildflower Wednesday is about sharing wildflowers/natives/naturally occurring plants no matter where you garden~the UK, tropical Florida, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most.
I hope you join the celebration..It's always the fourth Wednesday of the month!
Everett Butts, a native plant old timer living in the foothills of the Sierra, east of Sacramento, puts it this way: "What nature is doing on its own I'm doing with it. I tell people I have an affair with the land going here. It's damned important to me. It's part of my substance, my living and breathing. What I feel here is the earth and what flies and walks over it and burrows under it. The more I see and feel and understand, the more I like it."