Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Odd Man Out

The plant sits in the pot, leaves tight against the soil, and I stand and stare. There is no perfect spot, no patch of earth in need of a jolt of reddish orange so it waits while I consider my options. I should find a spot, stuff it in, and be done with it. But I don't.

I am methodical in the garden, quiet, and reflective. My impulses are saved for time spent with friends who don't mind bawdy jokes and conversations ripe with honest observations and sly innuendo. But when I garden I plan, analyze, research. Plants are rarely moved without thought to where they will go and comparisons made of one location to another. But this one went no further than a pot.



Maltese Cross (Lychnis chalcedonica) in sunnier times with Painter's Palette (Persicaria virginiana) and toadlilies. I offered it at my annual plant swap but was relieved when no one took it.

Decisions are harder when you respect a plant. I could have composted it, pawned it off on my neighbor, or just left it to die. But I didn't. Every perfect spot has become less perfect as my garden becomes shadier. But it blooms and then blooms again, fighting for sun, so I love it even more. The realization that I am the problem not the plant hits like a sucker punch to the gut and I'm humbled from the shock of it. I don't need a perfect spot. I don't care if it clashes, gaudy and bright against the subtle blues of the asters and silvery white of the veronica. Tall, gangly, and always slightly out of place, it makes me happy so it stays. I dig a hole, stuff it in and am done.

62 comments:

  1. Ah, I love a fighter! You instantly warm to them and will them on to greater things !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love a fighter, too. I have major respect for this plant.

      Delete
  2. Lovely post! I am all in favor of plant-centered gardening. But I would like to be around to watch you be quiet and reflective. OK, reflective is not hard to see, but quiet?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Believe it or not, I have a quiet, internal side to my personality. My family would be quick to tell you I spend a lot of time in my head, just thinking. Plant-centered design is definitely what I strive for. Maltese Cross has bloomed in every spot I've moved it to and just won't give up. It's a keeper.

      Delete
  3. Always good to have a place for the odd man or the odd balls anywhere, I think they add an extra dimension. They add such an element of uniqueness and serendipity. If your plant could talk I am sure it would be saying "hey what's your problem,I'm awesome! Just watch me!" Nice to read your post and I have been reading your newbie list on your sidebar. Wowsers! Now I just have to figure out how to beam you up and over here to cast your fastidious eye on my dirt patch!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they add some spice, too. I've redesigned a few sections of the garden as well as expanded the rain garden so new plants were needed. New plants are always needed!

      Delete
  4. Love that plant & am glad you kept it! You could teach me some things about being methodical in the garden as my garden style (if you can call it that) is as impulsive as one of our conversations!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Impulsive conversations are the best but impulsive planting usually means more work later on if it didn't work out. I'd ask you all kinds of analytical questions and probably drive you nuts.

      Delete
  5. Like a child who is different from the siblings; you love the same or more and give space in the family.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Any plant that keeps on blooming and adapting to wherever it's put deserves a place in your garden, perfect spot or not. I'm not an impulsive gardener either, but unfortunately, I'm an impulsive plant shopper:) I still have a couple of plants in pots that are going to have to go into imperfect places before the winter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed! Some plants are just such troopers they earn a permanent spot. I'm not usually an impulsive shopper, either. A plant needs more than a pretty face to be given a spot in the garden. Although, sometimes I'm just like "Screw it. I'm buying this plant and that's it. I'll figure the rest out when I get home." But I usually only do that with annuals.

      Delete
  7. Tall .. a bit awkward and out of place ... I was this plant in high school .. so I feel for it.
    I some times go into thought over load when I have a plant that needs a home and space is so tight and precious.
    Some times we just break the rules and find an imperfect ? place for a not so quite perfect plant .. hum ... don't too seemingly "negatives" make a positive then ? ... you can't help but give a plant it's dues for trying so hard right ? .. we really feel that with some plants.
    My contractor offered to find the plant ... he said he knew some nurseries ... but that exact cultivar won't be found this time of year so I called the mail order company and they may carry it next year ... fingers crossed !
    Joy : )
    PS .. I just read Rose's reply about being an impulsive plant shopper but a more thoughtful gardener ... I think that is so true of most of us ! LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tall, awkward, and colorful - I am still this plant so I can't fault it for traits I also possess. I spent my life moving (17 times in 34 years) and learned to bloom where I was planted. So this plant will always have a spot with me. :o)

      Delete
  8. "I am the problem not the plant." Wow! That definitely gave me pause. Thanks for something new to think about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! I was so worried about whether it would clash that I lost sight of the fact that it doesn't always matter. A garden should bring joy to the gardener and this plant does that so it was absurd to get rid of it.

      Delete
  9. I love this plant and love this shade of orange. Not in my garden yet, but I'm reminded that I want to try it! It reminds me a bit of the brilliant orange-red Silene regia 'Priairie Fire', which has done quite well for me for several years. I'm not worried about colors clashing; as far as I'm concerned, the more color the better!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do, too! I also have 'Prairie Fire'. That is an amazing plant! Very tough with a huge root system. I'm looking forward to seeing this in the sunny part of the garden next summer. I love color, too, which I had forgotten about when I was wondering where to put this. I'm not interested in a pale, boring garden.

      Delete
  10. I'm not sure you are the problem, I see it more as over thinking. I have a tendency to worry things to death but my plants are teaching me to lighten up. Their needs are simple and basic, get on with it they say. It is a huge relief when I listen to them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm very analytical and sometimes think things to death. Other times, I'm completely spontaneous. There were very few spots available to put the Maltese Cross and I already had two plants with bright red flowers in those areas. I'm sure it will all be fine and next summer I'll wonder why I tortured myself over it.

      Delete
  11. Every once in a while the same thing happens to me with a plant or a gardening project -- I get paralyzed with indecision. Finally I just go, plan or no plan. I love the shot of it with the Painter's Palette. I've tried growing Maltese Cross from seed, but have had no luck so far.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try a plant instead of seeds and it should do fine. It's easy to please but I've never had it self-sow. I liked it with the Painter's Palette, too but I redesigned that area to make room for plants that needed a new home and the Maltese Cross was being suffocated by all the phlox, etc I'd moved into the neighborhood.

      Delete
  12. Ahhhhh....how lovely that it got it's speck in the sun.....clash smlash....I wouldn't care either, if I love it it goes in....sometimes I rather like to see clashes, it looks more natural!xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't mind a bit of chaos and insanity and was irritated with myself for being so serious about where to put it. I like summer gardens that are riotous and bright.

      Delete
  13. I frequently pick up plants with no idea whatsoever where to put them. I carry them around the garden trying them here and there. More often than not I find someplace for them to land but sometimes I chide myself for over-thinking my "compositions." Perfectionism can be paralyzing (something I should have learned from watching my mother who never finished anything because it didn't live up to whatever vision she carried in her head). I recall a neighbor years ago who suffered no such conflicts - she stuck her newest fancy wherever she had an open space and she, and the plant, were perfectly happy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm a partial perfectionist. Take a very analytical, flow chart brain and mix it with a Jackson Pollock painting and you have me. At some point my creative side tells the scientific side to just shut the hell up and get on with it. I'm always relieved when that happens. :o)

      Delete
  14. I used to grow Lychnis chalcedonica, it was moved several times because I was never satisfied with how the orange red of the plant toned with other plants, eventually it turned up its toes objecting to me repeatedly digging it up. The lesson I was supposed to learn was just plant it and leave it alone, but thats hard to do!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is it's third or fourth move but so far it's happy. I'm really glad I didn't get rid of it. It will be very interesting to see how it works in the garden next summer.

      Delete
  15. Sometimes you just have to 'stuff it in' and be done...bravo!

    ReplyDelete
  16. You have the soul of a real gardener my friend.....

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh man! I can so relate to being the methodical gardener and over-thinking the perfect "vignette." But I love your realization that the problem is the overthinking not the plant! As winter comes, even us 'indecisives' have to move forward with a plan. So glad you found some ground, I love this plant. In my garden it blooms twice per season. If you cut it to the ground right after blooms deteriorate, it should bloom again late summer, early fall. I have mine growing with bayberry 'orange rocket.' Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good advice! Thanks. :o) I tend to be fairly decisive but had so few available spots and had already moved it three times, that finding a permanent home was driving me nuts. It might clash, but so what? :o) It's such a cool plant that I just don't care.

      Delete
  18. Yep, shade gardening can be a little trickier than sun gardening (or dappled sun gardening). And every year is different--sometimes the foliage is particularly full (like this year). I would have done the same thing you did. Gotta respect a fighter ... and a stunning one at that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have so many plants that I've had to move as my garden grows shadier. I've begun very selective branch pruning to open up the canopy and let it more light. Real estate in the moist, sunny side has reached a premium and I have no open spots. I gave away two massive clumps of phlox and about a dozen pink coneflowers at my plant swap because they needed more sun/water. They just couldn't compete with the river birch. I filled their spots with 2 'Wine Spritzer' beautyberries that I think will thrive there.

      Delete
  19. How could you not love something that flowers on regardless of where it is planted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love a feisty plant (unless it has thorns) so I had to reward its determination with a sunny home of its own. It's already put out new growth. :o)

      Delete
  20. I'm so glad you've embraced the hot orange color! It's one of my (many) favorite flower colors, although too bold for many. I hope you enjoy many moments of cheery orange bloom from your Maltese Cross. Thanks for posting! -Beth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love orange and bright colors but just didn't have a spot where this plant could shine since I already had a few red flowering plants in that area. But into the mix it went, anyway. :o)

      Delete
  21. This color will attract attention anywhere and wake up curiosity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm already curious about how it will look so it's done it's job well!

      Delete
  22. We learn a lot about ourselves from gardening :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true! My garden is the best teacher I've ever had.

      Delete
  23. I have a hard time placing that color in my garden too, but sometimes it's necessary. :) (Turk's cap lily is that color too.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like bright colors and have several red and orange flowering plants but space in the bed it needed to grow in was so limited that trying to find the "right/best spot" was making me crazy. It's between the silvery blue veronica 'Sun Queen' and the 'Summer Nights' heliopsis.

      Delete
  24. Lychnis chalcedonia is a lovely plant but I think the colour is quite hard to place. I have several plants; my maids -in -waiting that have to stay in their pots for months. They are impulse buys that are lovely but I can' t find the right place for them. Eventually they find a home though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sometimes fall in love with a plant and just let it live in Pottersville - my name for all my containers - until I find a spot for it. I don't like just sticking something somewhere while knowing I'll need to move it later. It feels counter productive.

      Delete
  25. I'll take red in any setting: red with magenta? red with purple? red with white? red with chartreuse? Bring it on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent philosophy! I need to remember that. :o)

      Delete
  26. I like that "At some point my creative side tells the scientific side to just shut the hell up and get on with it". Those words pretty much sum up most of my gardening decisions. Pots sit on the driveway for months until I finally get fed up and shoehorn things in all over the place. When it all comes up embarrassingly nice in the spring I'm reminded by how little my over-analytical thought process really matters.... or it just means I'm so bad at placing things even a blind man could do as well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I end up sticking plants in pots on my patio and then use that area to 'shop' from when I have holes to fill in the fall. Except some of them never come out of their pots which explains why I have 85 or so. I stopped counting.

      Delete
  27. Sounds VERY familiar, Tammy. I do the same thing. The plants wait until the inspiration comes. Many times I contemplate at night while waiting for my body to give in to sleep. Then the next day I'll have a dozen reasons why the previous night's idea won't work. But sometimes the inspiration is spot-on. For you, my dear, the inspiration will come and fortunately your Maltese Cross won't mind the wait. The joys of gardening.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes inspiration arrives slowly, for sure. I come up with fabulous garden designs when I'm half asleep that are all fog and mist by the next morning. When I'm really fired up, I write it all down on a never-ending document full of garden notes I keep on my computer.

      Delete
  28. I have become more methodical in my garden now with time to really observe and I find I love more plants that used to give me trepidation. I love the bright sunny flower of your potted plant as it reminds me it is still summer.

    ReplyDelete
  29. So easy to forget that sometimes you just love something so much that it can't be in the wrong place, no matter that it destroys the otherwise perfect combination. Plants that make you smile are so precious!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for visiting my blog! Feel free to comment on the posts or photos.