"Another dreary day. Yuk, and I've got to drive in this."
I was about to leave for Atlanta to visit my son Mark when I poked my head out the door yesterday morning. Predictions were for fog and rain all day. Then a yellow color against the gray mist caught my eye.
I blinked, the world shifted, and in that moment I was transported to a dreamland. I stepped outside with my camera, and for the next thirty minutes I wandered around in the drizzle. They say mist is good for a lady's complexion. I'm sure I was absolutely dewy when I came inside.
I thought about why my garden looks like this, in the middle of December. I choose plants for several reasons:
1. The plant will grow well in my yard. Native plants are great because I know they are adapted to my climate. Nandina, oakleaf hydrangea, mahonia, and yaupon holly are all featured in my garden. Many of my plant choices aren't natives, but they have to survive our sweltering summers, as well as the occasional hard frost. They have to be able to endure torrential rain, as well as draught. They have to be tough.
2. The plant will provide interest through more than one season. I always consider the plant's form and color. The plant should complement what is already there. I repeat groupings of plants throughout the garden to provide cohesion, but I'm likely to throw something different in to add punch. I like quirky, odd plants. As for color, I look at foliage. There are many shades of green, there are yellow leaves, purple leaves, variegated leaves, gray and blue leaves. If a shrub or tree has flowers, that's a great bonus. As for flowers, these are my garden's accessories to the trees and shrubs, which provide the main interest throughout the year. And smell. Viburnum, roses, gardenia -and so many more. Smell makes me pause and inhale the beauty of it all.
3. I also consider what the plant offers to wildlife. I get great joy watching the many different birds, the squirrels, the rabbits, and even the occasional fox who visit my garden. I love lizards, butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs, and bees. I feel good that so many creatures choose to live in my garden.
4. I plant some things because of emotional reasons. 'Annabelle' hydrangeas are planted in honor of my mother, whose name was that. A weeping Japanese maple is planted over the grave of my beloved black lab, Jasmine. Some plants were given to me by dear friends. I have a ginger lily passed through the generations from my great grandmother. I love my garden because it is full of memories.
5. Sometimes I choose a plant just because I love it. It may not meet some other criteria, but I just gotta have it. I love lavender. It never lives long, but I keep hoping. I have one, lavendula 'provence', in a small southeast facing raised bed. It is one year old and still living. I am optimistic. If it makes it through the winter, I will plant more in that area.
After I put away my camera yesterday, I drove to Atlanta, and the dreamy atmosphere of my garden stayed with me. The fog continued all the way. I listened to Christmas music on the stereo. It was beautiful, and I was content.
Peace - Deborah