Developing a pleasing landscape or garden is the most wonderful work. We plan and design and deliberate. Plants are considered for one location or another, one function – like developing a hedge for privacy – or another, such as softening a stone building.
It’s more fun than I can usually contain!
Sometimes, though, good accidents occur. Typically at the end of the growing season, I have several leftover plants that I bought for one client or another and then reconsidered.
I jam them into an open spot in my garden to winter over, thinking I will remember in the spring to move them or pot them up again.
Mostly I forget. Spring is very busy. I teach classes in design and then it starts to get warm, and the garden cleanups and plantings for clients take over.
Two lovely accidents have taken place in my yard this year. I planted the clematis ‘Josephine’ next to the fence I share with my neighbor. I thought it would fill in with a green and pink tapestry over the growing season and please us both.
I didn’t remember the colors of the shrubs on her side of the fence, but it turned out that she has a beautiful pink weigela that harmonizes perfectly with ‘Josephine.' Complete accident, but just right.
I just saw another exquisite combination that I can’t take credit for. Several pots of the ‘Goldflame’ honeysuckle were left over one year. This is a lovely native Lonicera, not the rampaging Japanese honeysuckle.
I popped them into the ground wherever I could and forgot them. This year, the meandering vine of blue green leaves and simple-yet-beautiful flowers scrambled over my fothergilla. The honeysuckle is semi-evergreen so its leaves are still bright green. The fothergilla is a fabulous shrub for fall color.
These lovely accidents remind me of that phrase from Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park: “Nature finds a way.” I can listen and learn and do my best design work and then nature will come in and teach me more.
Donna Williamson is a master gardener, garden designer, and garden coach. She has taught gardening and design classes at the State Arboretum of Virginia, Oatlands in Leesburg, and Shenandoah University. She’s also the founder and editor of Grandiflora Mid-Atlantic Gardening magazine, and the author of “The Virginia Gardener’s Companion: An Insider’s Guide to Low Maintenance Gardening in Virginia.” She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
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