Wednesday, June 2, 2010

June Muse Day and a question of identity

Design is on my mind all of the time as I work and re-work the garden. To be perfectly honest, mostly I mostly think about the futility of it, unless one has a small garden or a small crew. Many's the time I've sketched a plan, only to have the result to not resemble the plan in the slightest. I don't really mess with plans or sketches anymore. The garden changes every year anyway. Gardens are only temporary works of art which nature and time are always trying to erase.

So for Muse Day I offer this bit of Sylvia Plath's poem "Totem". I will not quote the entire poem, as it's just too gruesome for my purposes. I'm not a big fan of Sylvia Plath's work -- I read one of her biographies with more interest than her poems and her novel The Bell Jar -- but this bit of her poem fits my mood lately.

There is no terminus, only suitcases

Out of which the same self unfolds like a suit
Bald and shiny, with pockets of wishes,

Notions and tickets, short circuits and folding mirrors.

Kind of depressing, huh. This poem mostly comes to mind when I look at the sunny perennial areas. If I left it alone for five years there'd be a small forest of red maples, sweet gums, pine trees, groundsel trees, Chinese privet, Japanese honeysuckle, and greenbriar. In the end the big trees would win and even the Asian invasives would be held back to the edges.

Now for the question of identity. When Gail sent me PPPP ("Practically
Perfect Pink Phlox" the Phlox pilosa from Gail's garden clay and
) I didn't label it, although I should have. But here is this phlox

planted with Penstemon X.

Is this really PPPP, or something else? It's such a bright pink.

I believe this is Ozark Phlox, Phlox pilosa ssp. ozarkana,
which has hairy stems, fuzzier than that of the bright pink phlox.

Also for comparison, this is Smooth Phlox, Phlox glaberrima, which has smooth shiny leaves.

So what do you think? Is the first phlox something other than PPPP?


  1. I don't know what PPPP is, but your blooms are beautiful! :)

  2. Sometimes my PPPP is very pink~depending upon where it's growing. Having it near Penstemon X makes me think it's our own PPPP....which is Phlox pilosa 'Clay and Limestone' from years of crossing and growing here. gail

  3. I know what you mean about the futility of it all. Both in my small garden and at Six Acres, I often work for hours and stand back in dismay over the tiniest bit of progress I've made. I desperately need a crew. The ideas are there, just not the manpower. Sorry I can't help you with your identity crisis, but those are beautiful phlox. I once grew phlox with the greatest of ease in Atlanta, but I have no luck with the stuff here in Florida. It's so pretty in a perennial bed, I think.

  4. Dunno about the ID, but as someone with a large garden (for living in suburbia), I feel ya. Design is never even on my mind as I get plants onesy twosie or have to move something--it 's more a question of where is a bit of sun (shade) for them to go? Then to discover, oh, no, can't go there, huge tree root int he way, lol. I admire gardens that look designed, but that is never how my world is going to be. I do envy smaller gardens because they have a LOT more impact.

  5. I have no idea but it is a lovely phlox whatever it is!

  6. I am not an expert on phlox. So I could not tell you. I just know they are beautiful.

    Have any tips to get the sweet peas to germinate? ;0

  7. Your Ozarks are probably one of the (nine) subspecies. I think Gail's are the lighter pink ones because the petals are narrower like mine.

  8. I really like that observation about the garden being a temporary work of art that nature and time try to erase. It puts it all in perspective for me.

  9. Whatever it is it is pretty! I love seeing your garden-your photos are so sharp. I love the caldwell pink rose.
    Gardening is certainly an ongoing process.Every spring just when I am starting to think it is never ending-it all comes together and I am so pleased with the beauty of it all that I forget the work and enjoy it. I am so glad to be almost to the 'just maintenance' part though.


  10. Haven't a clue. Your Ozark Phlox looks exactly like my Prairie River Phlox... perhaps their greatest asset is that they're all gorgeous. :)

  11. I can't help on PPPP.
    Instead I'm thinking about your post opening. In a way it's encouraging. You know, a recovery plan for the earth. For gardeners, not so much. I've said before how overwhelmed I'd be if I had your amount of property. I sure wouldn't know where to start. Near the house, I guess, as you've done. I think I'd leave most of it to Mother Nature!! You are doing incredible without that small crew. One day at a time, right?

  12. I don't know how you manage to make such a large property so beautiful. I can hardly keep up with my very small yard. Your hard work definitely shows in your gardens though.
    The Penstemon X is just so pretty. Many of my Penstemons are just starting to bloom here.

  13. The first photo looks just like my PPPP from Gail; in fact, I have a Penstemon X planted right in front of mine, too! I have trouble identifying all the different cultivars, but since the PPPP is the only phlox I have, it's not hard:)

  14. Maybe PPPPP!

    Who knows? Still, very beautiful though.

  15. The lighter pink phlox is definitely the one I shared with you as Phlox pilosa var ozarkana.

    I definitely feel like I'm fighting a losing battle this year with the garden as far as neatness and design but it's mine nonetheless and I'll love it anyway:)

    Oh and I saw my first snake last weekend! I guess there are some benefits to untidiness.

  16. Thank you everyone for your comments.

    littlewing I love my garden anyway too but I do sometimes get a bit frustrated with it. It's enormous.

  17. Your garden is the place to go when I'm in the mood for pink and purple.

    I read The Bell Jar so, so many years ago and have never been able to get it out of my mind.


  18. Hi, sweet bay, Just this morning I was thinking of the fact that the weeds grow so fast and luxuriously that I wonder why I even bother to try to grow my flowers! And no matter what I plan - although I've never been one for putting it on paper - it seems to redesign itself. Everything is different every year. Which is o.k. I just hope that it is getting better each year! I love your picture of Penstemon X. I haven't had much success with Penstemons. And I think your garden is beautiful. :)

  19. I think the first photo looks a lot like Phlox divaricata but I'm no expert either. I hope someone can offer a definitive answer.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...