R: We're back with the second installment of our interview with a Connecticut gardener. You can read a transcript of the first part here. This time we are out of the studio, on a visit to the garden itself. Tell me, what is this shrub here with the funny bottlebrushes on it? They smell like honey.
R: Really? Plants can change into completely different plants?
Me: Yes. Not naturally, but if I move them. The hydrangea that was in this spot languished. It was too sunny and dry here. So I moved it and put in a fothergilla, which likes it better here. Almost every plant in my garden is sitting in a spot where some other plant was before it.
R: Why move plants around so much? Doesn't that set them back or hurt them?
Me: Heavens, no. I only plant things that can be moved three times and thrive.
R: Why three times?
Me: The first spot is always where I want that particular plant to grow, despite the plant's own needs and the culture info on the tag. The second location is where the plant itself is happier. The third spot is usually a whim, when I'm doing radical garden redesign without a plan.
R: While we are walking around, show us which plants are your favorites.
Me: I don't have favorite plants --- individual plants by themselves are not interesting. It's how they combine with others that make me go "wow". This is a favorite spring combination of 'Oklahoma' redbud, the fothergilla I just mentioned, and some spruces, with a climbing hydrangea in front. This was from last spring, and it still delights me:
And this fall combination of amsonia and Himalayan fleeceflower nestled under a doublefile viburnum is a favorite:
Even a simple corner of the garden with creeping thyme, roses and grasses can wow on a summer morning when they are together:
I have favorite mixes of forms and shapes too, not just colors. Like this combination at the bend of the walk:
I could go on.
R: That's okay. I get it. Show us the first thing you ever planted, the very beginning of your garden six years ago.
Me: I can't. I killed it and most of the other things I planted at first. For a while I kept a plant graveyard, with all the tags of all the deceased plants stuck in the ground. But after a while it looked ghoulish and it was taking up too much room. Now the compost pile is all I can show you of most of my beginning efforts.
R: Why do you have a rusted sign here in the border?
R: Thank you for this tour of your gardens.
Me: My pleasure. Come back next season, it will all look different.