“When we sow a seed, we plant a narrative of future possibility,” Sue Stuart-Smith, a British psychiatrist and psychotherapist and wife of garden designer Tom Stuart-Smith, writes in her new book, “The Well-Gardened Mind.” (The New Yorker 8/24/20 “The Therapeutic Power of Gardening“).
Taking that quote probably further than necessary, I’ve got so many narratives going in multiple seed trays, that I wasn’t sure I could keep their stories straight and feared the high temps would close the book on some of them. Some are more precious to me than others, e.g. I’d be a wreck if I lost all the tiny seedlings of Verbascum epixanthinum, which might be the chartreuse-leaved verbascum I grew many years ago. So far, with strict labeling and moving the trays into the shade in the hottest part of the day, we’re doing OK. It’s all very exciting, but I much prefer it when the plants handle this on their own, this question of when and where to set down roots. Writing their own stories, so to speak, without my ghostwriting help, like this glaucium that seeded into the bricks this spring. I really should have edited it out because the pathway has shrunk by a foot, but look at it this morning. What a storytelller!
It’s nice to have around some plants that really seem to enjoy this hot, muggy, steamy August, like amaranthus and a celosia I ordered from Annie’s Annuals a couple weeks ago.
Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ blooms are fabulously presentable for a long period of time, even into the dog days of August. They remind me slightly of eremurus, the foxtail lilies, though of course short and squat versions. From the New Yorker article quoted above, I can sympathize with writer Rebecca Mead’s dazzled reaction on seeing eremurus for the first time in Tom Stuart-Smith’s garden: “In the dense bed of plants before us, thin stems topped with clinging bursts of delicate pastel flowers—orange, pink, yellow—had grown to twice the height of their neighbors, looking like slender sticks of licorice dipped in sherbet. “They are foxtail lilies,” Tom explained. “They are from Kazakhstan. Aren’t they great?” Yes, they are! But not suitable for zone 10, unfortunately, whereas eucomis seem fairly happy here. I need to decide whether to keep them in containers or try again planting in the ground. I think it will be containers because past experiments in the ground produced flabby, miserable specimens.
With the cosmos, gomphrena, and now Autumn sage hybrids in bloom, I’ve got a garden fantasy going this August that I’m calling Wildflowers in the Desert. I had a couple rooted branches of Peruvian Apple Cactus, Cereus repandus, one in a pipe, and slipped them into the garden to expand on the theme. I love the heft and thick line that they add to the sesleria grass and rosette-shaped succulents. This cactus grows much too large to plant in the ground but it’s fun to play around with, and I notice flower buds are forming on the branches.
Have a great weekend and stay safe out there, especially friends near the wildfires in Northern California.