Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Rock gardeners are renowned for their plant idolatry: we are the ultimate plant nerds who worship all things small, jewel-like and lofty. You can peruse no end of books and journals on alpines, and page after page of lovely portraits will unfold, usually of plants in lonely isolation on a cliff, or nestled in a pocket of the garden. Perennial gardeners, on the other hand, insist on combinations. I think that we who love xeriscapes, rock gardens and naturalistic plantings could benefit a bit more from their combinational skills. I took this picture of a truly marvellous plant that somehow hasn't caught on: sometimes lumped with the more widespread Verbascum phoeniceum, I first obtained V. atropurpureum from one of the indefatigable Czech seed collectors (must I look it up?) and I admit the plants are similar. This Central Asian plant (I saw it everywhere in Kazakhstan last summer) is very long lived in the garden, and extremely xeric as well. And very adaptable. Now a dark purple mullein is apparently not that compelling: I now know that had I moved a bit to the left and lifted up a bit and had those violet purple flowers against the soft pink Helianthemums, it would make an even better picture. Both plants--a tad bland in some ways--are work horses for my garden. They are plants everyone--certainly everyone in a semi-arid, sunny climate--ought to be growing. By putting them together like this, it brings out the best in both. I will be posting lots of medleys like this in the future: and I must recreate this one in my garden if it's morphed away...

1 comment:

  1. What a GREAT idea...medleys...keep posting!

    I so enjoy this blog and since I've just created a rock garden section within my garden, I am gleaning lots of good ideas here. Although I am located in the Pacific Northwest (Zone 7-8, maritime), I am hoping several of your suggestions will work for my locale as well. But all the great 'eye candy' is worth stopping by anyways :>] THANK YOU!!


Featured Post

A garden near lake Tekapo

The crevice garden of Michael Midgley Just a few years old, this crevice garden was designed and built by Michael Midgley, a delightful ...

Blog Archive