Monday, April 4, 2011

For those who like to curse

Yes, it's that time of year again when the F-word passes our lips. Again. And again. And again.

Yes, that one, as we realize as we lay down mulch or plant a new "little happy" that we just trampled a previously unseen hosta spike, or accidentally pulled up the lengthy runner and new shoots of an Ostrich fern (as I did yesterday morning). Criminal.



But upon finishing the laying of the mulch and the planting of new finds, another F-word passed my lips. Like frost, it is another dreaded F-word in a gardener's lexicon: Fear.

Yes, fear.

I fear that my newly renovated East Side Shade Garden bed (ESSB) will look like the S-word--the clumps of "S" that I find scattered throughout various beds thanks to Gramsci-cat fertilization. The boy likes to help me garden, but sometimes I wish he would assume the supervisory/managerial role Simone has adopted and leave me to do the work of fertilizing and watering.

Last fall, I transplanted Kerria japonica Golden Guinea from the rear corner where it performed abysmally to the center of the ESSB. If he languished last year, this year he has thus far proven himself a star! He began to leaf out in February, when all others more than occasionally shuddered as Arctic winds blew across northern Delaware. Today he offers increasingly engorged flower buds, ready to regale with his single yellow petaled flowers up and down the lengths of his bright green stems. He bursts with energy, a call to arms for other plants, the true vanguard of the botanical revolution otherwise known as spring!

Yesterday, I planted around him 5 bare root Blue Ivory Hosta plants, not quite in semi-circular formation (so as to avoid a formality that I assiduously try to avoid because I find it too constraining). I thought its creamy yellow margins would provide a softer parallel of Orange Marmalade's bright yellow-orange (which I transplanted and which has not yet pierced the soil) and the gold-yellow flowers of Kerria, while the blue centers would complement the richer hues of the Nikko Blue Hydrangea and the spectacular blue-violet flowers of Golden Kate Spiderwort.

But then I fear that too much is, well, too much.

Is repetition of color (in both flower and leaf hue across multiple plants) enough to successfully act as design?

Did I plant too many of the Blue Ivories? Should I have interspersed Halcyon blue hosta (I have 8 bare roots as yet without homes) amongst them so as to break up the uniformity?

Did I forget what herbaceous plants existed in which areas of the bed, and thus severely disrupt whatever element of design may have existed?

Will the fuchsia astilbes prove garish against the Blue Ivory hostas?

Did Orange Marmalade hosta survive the winter?

So much fear (and doubt) wrapped up in an activity that brings so much pleasure.

Given that I mused there are few mistakes in gardening, what, I ask myself, is the root of my fear? Is it a presumed or perceived lack of design? Or is it tethered to what others will think? While the former is easily corrected--simply dig up plants, once again, move them around like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, introduce new ones (smile!), and arrange them until they "fit"--the latter is not.

That is, unless we invoke the other F-word (no, not frost, but the other one), and use it with deep conviction...Isn't it strange how the "original," infamous, FCC-banned F-word helps constitute our confidence and embolden our convictions?

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