Plant a Picture
Gardening is like painting…from the raw elements of shape, texture and color, we gradually mold and manipulate our materials to create a picture that is beautiful to behold.
As a gardener, my land is my canvas, and plants are my palette.
My canvas, and thus my garden, will surely be unique. The land I have may be small or large…flat or undulating, with a view to incorporate or a space unto itself.
Of course, unlike paintings, our gardens are dynamic and fluid creations. As the seasons progress our palette is ever evolving. While some plants shine month after month, most have their particular season of glory— we have spring beauties, summer stalwarts and autumn show-offs.
And gardens change with the years too. After first set out, most plants look small—even puny. But in a few years they will dramatically transform themselves— into a drift of colorful perennials or a tree that dominates the landscape.
Some plants, like Black-eyes Susans are well known to most of us but, providing they perform well, their ordinariness is no reason to exclude them from our gardens. Others, like the Geranium Rozanne, are currently much in vogue. While I am not into ‘trendy’ per se, I include Rozanne in my palette because of its outstanding performance. (By contrast, I am less interested in chasing down the latest yellow, green or orange coneflower because it seems these new cultivars lack staying power in the garden).
To make the most of the plants you have in your palette, it not only helps to know what they are and how to grow them, and also what is feasible in your climate. As we know, not all climates are created equal. In a companion set of articles—Hardiness revisited— I look at the many considerations—both things we can’t control as well as those we can— to ensure our plants will come through the winter smiling.
In the articles below I will talk about some of the plants–suitable for any cool-climate garden—that I grow in my Vermont garden, and how I use them to paint my own garden pictures.
And unless, you live where it gets much colder in winter, or much hotter in summer, these plants should be very happy in your garden too.