Tuesday, September 2, 2008
In Praise of Volunteers or The Kindness of Strangers
For me August is the month to look back over the garden and decide what worked and which gardening approaches and assumptions need revision. A gardener's equivalent of making your New Year's resolutions list.
Even though I work at home I have very little time for actual gardening. As a result the sunny areas in my garden are a bit weedy. I've realized I can only be unrelenting in eradicating garlic mustard. The myriad grasses that adore my patch of earth often are allowed to remain. As a result, by the end of summer I have a hybrid meadow-cottage garden affair in full swing.
There is a very definite upside to this approach however. Some of the most exciting gardening moments this year have come through the "kindness of strangers". As I desultorily pursue my weeding I come upon plants I do not quite remember having seen before. I tend to leave these alone since it could be I did plant something and simply forgot.
The most exciting of all were the 2 dianthus varieties or Sweet Williams that appeared out of nowhere. I had never seen one.
I knew something was up in early spring when I saw this rosette of leaves topped by a fluffy spiky tuft in an entirely different style. I left it alone hoping this augured good things.
A few weeks later I was rewarded by these bright magenta dots in the fluffy areas. And then to my added delight I saw I had another similar plant with paler pink dots about a foot away.
I called my friend Marta, gardener extraordinaire, to help identify my precious new plant. And she congratulated me and told me their names.
For next year I have ordered 3 more dianthus of a new variety patented by John Whetman of Deer Park Farm, Devon called 'Devon Yolande'! How could I resist a plant named in my honor.
Oh! a great thing about these sweet plants is that if you deadhead once the first blooms are spent they will rebloom all the way into September not as thickly but just as brightly.