Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mistakes, or the Misplaced Butterfly Bush

Post 4

Mistakes: you will make them.

Can you spot it? It's that blobitity lump of silver-green smack in the middle front. A Butterfly Bush I was deluded enough to think would stay small. It didn't, ruining an otherwise successful rock garden.  Plus, the bush's mass confuses the flow of space; instead of drawing the eye in, it pushes the gaze out. Which irks me. Part of me wants the garden to be better, perfect, a sort of garden porn. 
Do you see the problem here? Red myrtle, red maple and ... invasive Lythrum salicaria, aka Purple Loosestrife. In England it is a lovely, manageable garden plant.  Here it destroys rivers, clots streams and chokes wetlands. I must pull it out. Which hardly seems fair since I did not plant it. The wind and rain did. But it's my responsibility now.

The words humus, humility and human are cognate. Sometimes, as I garden, it feels as if humility is seeping up into me from the humus. And it feels like strength, not weakness, a beatitude of the garden.

"Imperfection is in some sort essential to all that we know of life. It is the sign of life in a mortal body, that is to say, of a process and change. Nothing that lives is, or can be, rigidly perfect: part of it is decaying, part nascent…And in all things there are certain inequalities and deficiencies, which, are not only sources of life but sources of beauty." Alvar Aalto

The Butterfly Bush is now in bloom, and true to its nature, it is making the butterflies very happy. It will bloom, on and off, from now till fall, when I will transplant it to a better place further back in the yard. It will still please the flutterbys, but also contribute to the overall beauty of the garden.

The beauty I want to create is a different kind of beauty than the usual, temptingly-perfect garden porn.  What I want instead, is a sensuous expression of the integrity and inter- and outer-connectiveness of a particular environment.  For me, to garden is to find and express a presence, an itness, a balance of energy and order of being, tempered to a loved and local, time and place. 

"Presence is why we love what we cannot eat or mate with... Presence matches our speed; thus it seems not flow, but all arrivals— The beginning mirrored everywhere. The true indictment. The end all through the story."  Les Murray in "Sunflowers"

Addendum--posted the above yesterday and this morning noticed that a spider had thrown a guyline from the pink coneflowers (you can see them in the bottom pic,) to a stem at the back of the bush.  This pleases me, since around here, garden spiders are good news. They are nonpoisoness and eat mosiquitos and other pests. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How-to: Butterfly Bush or Buddleia davidii, is hardy in our area and easy to grow. It likes sun and some water (but not bog,) will survive drought, and depending on the variety, can be anywhere from 3 to 12 feet tall. The trick is to remember to prune it in the spring, not fall, and only after you can see the beginnings of new buds. For the most blossoms, prune the stems down to about 6 inches. If, however, you want to encourage height, you will still get some bloom if you prune it up higher. It can make an attractive, overhanging backdrop to a sunny or even slightly shaded border. Besides the lavender-blue pictured above, it also comes in a wonderful dark purple, white and even some reddish and orangey shades. It is a dependable, unfussy plant, but can look awkward if badly placed (duh!) or if left undeadheaded after blooming, since numerous curly wands of brown decay can be a hard look to make work.

1 comment:

jackie! said...

this is so helpful! i now feel confident enough to hopefully try on my own! nice work, glad to finally have a local gardening blog i can look to. yay!