Sunday, June 8, 2008

If you're not busy living, you're busy senescing

Maybe it's from when I was studying art. Understanding the importance of negative space, versus what is right there in front of you. Who knows. Maybe it's just me.

Whatever it is, I am always fascinated by the adolescent and mature stages of plant life; the "off" moments that are not in your face.  While most wait for the crescendo moment, the cymbal-crashing sound a particular plant makes, I am looking for something else. It could be the way the newest peony shoots glare at you in their fuchsia skins, or how the beige seedheads of Allium schubertii gently rest on turgid leaves like Martian summer snowflakes.

I saw this the other day. I hovered around this combination pondering just how perfect these random garden coincidences are.  Thank GOD these serendipitous moments happen! How motivating it is to be surprised by something so unplanned!

Allow me to introduce Epimedium x versicolor  'Sulphureum' and Fritillaria raddeanaAs you can see, the newest  growth of the Epimedium is a warm bricky red. The interior veination is creamy-chartruese that is accentuated by the dainty sulphur-colored blossoms.  Similar to the more recognized Crown Imperial F. imperialis, the Fritillaria raddeana that bloomed weeks before is quite an uncommon garden character:  very subtle in hue, and delicate in form, this unusual bulb has dusky chartreuse tepals with a wash of the faintest burgundy on the outside of the blossoms. This is a fantastic addition to a lightly shaded woodland, even though it is noted as preferring full sun. 

What is so unexpected, and what makes this such an interesting facet in this garden, are the senescing leaves of the Fritillaria! Finished blooming weeks before, the life from the leaves draining back into the bulb composes an encore that glows. What an interesting palette! How gracious of the Fritillaria to spotlight the protege at its feet.

I challenge you to look beyond the green and lush. Look closely as plants emerge, and with warm regards as they leave. These undulating moments are many, and are exactly what makes any garden a dynamic place, always in flux.

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