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A Gardening Life – September 29

There are many books, articles and blog posts on plant combinations. You can plan your gardens according to the shades of flowers and foliage textures and colors…or a combination of both. Some design according to height or the time of bloom and these are also important considerations when placing one plant next to another. This season I was reminded that there is another way to look at our gardens, and that is from the perspective of the ultimate use of those plants.

In this age of Pinterest perfect vegetable gardens, for instance, some may be tempted to plant their veggie gardens according to how they look while everything is growing. Although this is a valid approach it’s important to remember the final use of the produce that’s being grown. Unless that Pinterest photo is the goal, the quality (taste!) and quantity of the harvest are probably more essential than the appearance of the garden as the vegetables are growing.

I grew Amaranthus ‘Autumn Palette’ this year in my cutting garden and for most of the summer was completely disappointed in this plant. Although the seed packet showed a range of flower colors, my plants have been mostly beige. Basically beige, brownish beige, boring beige with a little rustiness thrown in. “Well,” I thought in August, “I’ll never grow these again.” Clearly I was forgetting why I planted this Amaranthus in the first place.

Last week I cut some zinnias and dahlias and included a few of of the ‘Autumn Palette’ in that bouquet. Suddenly those flowers were perfect. Although they were ugly in the garden on their own, in combination with other flowers they were the ideal color, shape and texture for a fall bouquet. It was a wonderful mixture.

Some plants are best viewed in the garden, and others are better appreciated in their ultimate destination, be it a vase or the supper table.

Not too exciting, right? Most of the flowers looked like this.

Some were a tad more rusty in color...although in the full sunlight of the garden they looked beige.

But in a vase with flowers, the rustiness is accentuated and the flower is perfect!




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