July 11, 2010

Lust and Envy

It's a sin and I know it.  Envy.

But you must have had it too, the day you were asked to water your neighbor's plants while they were away, and you got to spend time in her garden, up close without the distraction of neighborly chatter.

You just hung out a bit in her garden, alone with her plants.  And it gobsmacked you.  Her garden is so much nicer than yours.

First of all, she has a long stone wall built into a gentle slope, and an enormous patio.  You can do so much with hardscape and contour and walls, and she has it all.  My own gardens start about 20 yards to the right of this photo.

And she has full containers sitting on the wall, looking like a real composition, and not just pots scattered around randomly.  That layered wall works in so many ways.

Her gaura Whirling Butterflies came back.  Mine didn't.  And mine were only yards away.

She has a lovely petunia with subtle green edges that I want in my garden next year.  I think it's called 'Pretty Much Picasso', an odd name but a cool little petunia.

But the real reason I was stopped in my tracks and hit full force by the envy train was her stand of Crocosmia 'Lucifer'.
Cocky scarlet blooms, big strappy foliage.

You need to know that this was not simple jealousy.  I had long wanted Crocosmias in my garden and I planted 12 corms of the bright red 'Lucifer' and 6 corms of 'Jenny Bloom' (a golden yellow).  None of them came back over winter.  Not one.  I garden 20 to 30 yards away from my neighbor and I think she's in the same zone I am, so it wasn't a winter hardiness issue.  Soil?  Exposure?  I dunno.  How could she have this stand of glory and I got zero, nada, none to grow?

The sin of envy must be punishable by the garden gods.  What else could explain her simple success and my pointed failure with this plant .... a plant so ominously named Lucifer?


  1. I am going to try crocosmia again. AGAIN mind you. They grow here in my city but haven't done so in my garden. A little envy doesn't hurt anyone.

  2. If you could stand hot sticky summers you could have all of the Crocosmia you want! I don't have it but I know it grows like a weed here.

    Your neighbor's garden looks great but yours looks great too.

  3. Laurrie, believe it or not I asked a similar question last fall and an expert gardener with loads more experience than me told me that you have to lift the bulbs up sometimes because they bury themselves deeper and deeper each season, and when they go too deep, they die or send up foliage but no flower. Isn't that strange? She stopped growing them except in pots where it is easy to adjust the depth every year. I have no idea if it's true, but crocosmia are lovely, lovely, lovely.

    I can understand your envy. But your garden is beautiful, too. :)

  4. Hi Laurrie, your neighbor's garden would provoke envy in anyone! What a lovely spot. As for the crocs, they flower best when divided every year since the new bulbs grow on top of the old and get too close to the surface. Try digging them in the fall and seperating the corms.

  5. Lisa, so I guess I am not the only one to fail with crocosmia!

    Sweet bay, Crocosmia is marginally hardy here and grows best in your area, but my neighbor is in the same zone as I am, and hers thrive. Not fair.

    Meredith and Frances, that's interesting about lifting the corms and how they grow. Makes me want to try crocosmias again, I just might.


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