Gardening from the couch: literally
Faithful readers know that Garden Variety has been on the shelf for a couple of weeks, battling a stubborn respiratory thing.
I took the opportunity of my enforced rest to read my copy of "Gardening for a Lifetime," by Sydney Eddison, who describes the accommodations she made in her (massive) 40-year-old gardens because of age and poor health.
Not what I should have been reading, I think. It made me feel my age and my infirmities all the more.
But she makes some points that I took to heart as I sat on the porch and watched the weeds grow during these three weeks.
Sydney Eddison loved her perennial borders and her favorites were her daylilies. But she realized that perennials that require nearly weekly maintenance, including deadheading and pruning, are simply too much work. Daylilies are worse and more of it, she concluded.
She removed many of her perennials and replaced them with small flowering trees and shrubs that require trimming or pruning twice a year, or less.
Among her criteria, which she called her "standards of good behavior" are:
- A perennial must be truly perennial and return faithfully every year.
- It must be health and exhibit the fortitude to endure dry summers without supplemental watering and cold winters without additional mulching, other than the remains of mulch put down in the spring.
- It must have superior, or at least, good foliage. Good foliage is attractive for most of the season, which means that some browning of old leaves can be expected after flowering, but cutting it down should not be mandatory. Think Sedum "Autumn Joy."
- A well-behaved perennial must maintain a tidy habit -- no flopping or sprawling. It must remain within reasonable bounds -- no overtaking of neighbors or shading them out.
- It must not offer an invitation to predators, pests or diseases.