Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dwarf Evergreens--for Now and Forever

I have a thing for dwarf evergreens.

Spruce at the Glasbern Inn, about 20 years old

This was not always the case. In my reckless youth I loved bad boys—fire-engine red monarda that will paint an entire field in three years, and archangel lamium, the devil dressed in yellow. I planted galloping grasses, furry masses of snow-in-summer (Cerastium) and expanding borders of flash-in-the-pan forsythia. Lysimachias and gooseneck loosestrifes, hederas and houttuynias, I loved them all. But over time, as my hot desire for sparkle and speed subsided, I erased them, one by one, from my little black book. I still appreciate a glossy calendar photo that shows their best assets under a summer sunset, but I don’t need to possess them in my beds.

Dwarf Hemlock, age 5

Slowly, my roving eye turned to something that could sustain me for the long haul. I began to appreciate the sweet rounded shape of a ‘Mops’ mugo pine, and the alluring new needles of a hemlock that can be coated with oil (for woolly adelgid—the insect version of snow-in-summer) with ease.

'Goshiki' Osmanthus, age 5

I place them in the garden, these little cuties, and fill in the gaps with the latest new zinnia or gomphrena or argyranthemum. Every spring I savor the wee bits of fresh new growth, and dream ahead to a time when they’ll have put on a couple of new feet of gorgeous girth.

Falsecypress at the Glasbern, age 20

A few decades hence I will hobble out to the garden on my new-fangled knees and pet my soft beauties, which will have grown together amiably, neighbors stroking each other’s needle-y boughs. The openings between will have slimmed to nothing, leaving no more room for flashy flowers that bloom and die. But that’s okay. In our older years we will have transcended that sort of thing, my ‘Mops’ and I, and left the wildness of youth behind in photos, and in the memories of friends and lovers. Sweet serenity will be ours.

This is my 'Mops' Mugo Pine, and he's with LaRita (Argyranthemum)

Well, except for the occasional visits from uninvited guests, Neodiprion sertifer and Chionaspis pinifolia.

1 comment:

  1. What a great approach to gardening in the long term, Pam: instead of making gardens that will need increasing amounts of work to stay tidy as they age, you're creating plantings that simply get finer over time. Thanks for sharing your post for the GGW Design Workshop this month.