Friday, August 28, 2020

Another perspective on the garden

In July, Tamara of Chickadee Gardens published a post by her "facilities manager" featuring his favorite flowers.  Earlier this week, Loree of danger garden provided a list of her husband's favorite plants from their garden.  With a degree of trepidation, I asked my spouse if he'd identify his favorite plants in our garden.  After a roll of his eyes and my assurance that he could limit his list to ten plants, he laughed and signified general acceptance of the request (after I agreed that we could skip the back slope).  As background, my husband has always been very willing to help me with all the heavy lifting in the garden, including the removal of all the lawn that came with it, laying flagstone paths, and constructing a stairway of concrete blocks down our steep back slope.  He also built an arbor for our grapevine, a dining table for our back patio, a lath house for my shade plants and, most recently, compost bins.

In addition to designing and building the lath house, including internal shelving and external window boxes, he also created custom-fitted shade-cloth screens to cover the ceiling and top two shelving areas to increase the shade quotient during the hot summer months 

That said, he shows little to no interest in what I plant, except to occasionally express concern that one plant or another may impact his view of the harbor.  He's also severely color blind, so much so that I'm regularly required to advise him as to the colors marking electrical wires when he's wiring anything. I periodically invite him into the garden to look at plants I'm particularly pleased with but the best I usually get out of him is "uh huh, that's nice."

He walked through the garden before making any selections.  Then he started pointing to things but he left the camera work to me.  I asked if he could tell me what he liked about the plants he identified and he responded to the effect that I hadn't said that was necessary so "no" and we proceeded with him pointing and me clicking the camera.  Here's his list in order of selection:

Pyrus calleryana, aka ornamental pear : This tree admittedly provides good shade cover in the front garden but it's also extremely messy; however, I'm the one that deals with the leaf litter and falling fruit

Phormium 'Maori Queen': One of my favorite plants as well.  He noted that we had several and his praise encompassed all of them.

Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum': He took note of two of them but there are others.  He looked up at Grevillea 'Peaches & Cream' as we walked by the area on the right but made no note of that plant.

Helichrysum petiolare 'Licorice Splash: I was confounded by this choice, especially as he completely ignored Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'


Arthropodium cirratum, aka Renga Lily (not currently in bloom): This selection startled me too.  I love the plant, which handles dry shade conditions well, but he passed by a couple of dozen of these plants elsewhere in the garden without noting them.  The two plants here receive more sun and are a bit sun-bleached by comparison to others in shadier areas.

Zinnia elegans: The first flowers he acknowledged, although he waved at them and said "these chrysanthemums or whatever they are."  In retrospect, I wondered if he noticed these because this area was recently covered with scrappy looking rosemary shrubs.  I added the Zinnias as a temporary filler after pulling the shrubs out.

Yucca 'Bright Star': Another plant we agree on

Polygala fruticosa, aka sweet pea shrub: Although I've got a few of these in the garden, the most I can say about it is that it's a tidy shrub when young

Lantana 'Samantha': Another flowering plant, this one with variegated foliage.  There was no mention of the lovely sunflower in a pot nearby that echoed the yellow flower color.

Pelargonium 'Lady Plymouth': His selection of this one had me thinking that he's drawn to variegated foliage that stands out among the surrounding plants

Gladiolus 'Green Star': A total surprise

The Mandarin and navel orange trees: In this case, he specifically mentioned that he appreciated their excellent fruit.  There are still a few orange spots visible near the top of the Mandarin orange tree on the left but most of those are just shells left by the rats after they ate the remaining fruit in place.

If you've counted, his list included twelve plant species rather than ten as we'd both lost track.  Like Loree, I suspect the list might be very different at another moment in time.  No succulents were identified.  I was moderately surprised there weren't more trees on the list (I'm certain the lemon tree would've been included if we'd gone down the back slope) and almost as surprised that he included any flowers at all.  I'm not sure what I can take away from the exercise about his preferences other than perhaps that he shows some preference for variegated plants.

Online sources are predicting a nice drop in temperatures over the weekend and although they've consistently underestimated our daytime highs I'm nonetheless hopeful they're right this time.  I hope you enjoy a safe and comfortable weekend as well.


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

34 comments:

  1. Hubbies, gotta love them. Mine is similar. He will build and do all sorts of grunt work for me (he moved 40 yards of bark mulch onto pathways this Spring) but he too takes little interest in the plants. I wonder if your husbands choices were also a reflection of their planting partners?

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    1. I wondered the same thing, Elaine, especially when he pick that Helichrysum over Acacia 'Cousin Itt'!

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  2. Ha, that's interesting. I have to try it with Alan.

    Wonder if the color-blindness makes variegated foliage easier to see?

    The nights at least seem to be cooling down. Hopefully that continues. Sitting in front of the fan until thoroughly chilled, I can go outdoors and garden for about 15 minutes.

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    1. Something certainly seemed to draw his eye to variegated foliage.

      Today was remarkably cooler, although I still managed to drip sweat when digging compost into the bed I'd mostly emptied of out-of-control Centaurea this morning.

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  3. Such an interesting post with a mini tour of your amazing garden. I love the look of the lath house.

    You noted that sweet pea shrub is tidy when young. I'm looking for shrubs that pretty much max out at 3x3 or 4x4 and stay tidy. Any experience with sweet pea shrub as it matures?

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    1. In my garden, the sweet pea shrub tends to get chlorotic during the summer months but that may be the result of my soil and/or the fact that it gets limited water during our long dry season. I haven't tried giving it a fertilizer boost so it may be that the condition is readily reversible. The bigger issue is that the shrubs eventually get twiggy, even with periodic trimming. As it self-seeds profusely in my garden, I generally just pull the woody specimens out and let one of the seedlings take over. The specimen my husband pointed to in the back garden grew from a seedling. I should have noted that my husband blew right by the overgrown specimens in the front garden with nary a glance.

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    2. Very helpful. I think I'm done with self-seeders. Had a Chinese flame tree and a thousand seedlings popped up after every rain.

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    3. Some self-seeders are definitely better behaved than others. My mimosa tree, inherited with the garden, is also a rampant (and sneaky) self-seeder, as well as a litterer.

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  4. Bellissimo spunto nella prima immagine! Il resto è stupendo come sempre :)

    Buona serata!

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    1. Thanks Gabriel! In my climate, greenhouses have limited value as we never get freezes but a shade house like the one my husband built is useful in protecting shade-loving plants I could not otherwise grow here.

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  5. husbands sheesh... wait - I am a husband. Oh well, we each have our own interests in life. And kudos to him for playing along! I enjoyed your commentary on his commentary.

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    1. I'm sure your wife is pleased to see all those succulents you collected in pots migrate to the sloped area at the front of your house, Hans! ;)

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  6. Isn't it interesting to see what they choose? I keep meaning to try this with my spouse. There is a lot to love in a garden!

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    1. It was interesting to see what he chose, Eliza, but I'm not planning to take him plant shopping with me anytime soon ;)

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  7. Colour blind must be an interesting and challenging way to see the world. But I often think we can never know how someone else sees THAT yellow flower. He likes canola fields, I loathe that mustardy mustard smelling space.
    My Ungardener mostly sees plants as a combination of, looks thirsty, DON'T prune that. It's me that wants the glimpse of mountain.

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    1. If we're lucky, each partner beings something different yet valuable to the marriage, Diana. I've often wondered how my husband sees colors given his severe red-green color blindness. I have green eyes, which I've long considered one of my best features but my husband can't see green so, for all he knows, I could look like a rabbit!

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  8. Who is counting?... I think this is a fun exercise. I might get my DB to do this too. I bet your hubby "sees" the variegation better and the larger forms with dark backgrounds. An interesting study. And it just proves again that everyone sees the garden different than we gardeners see it. Fun..

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    1. It was an interesting exercise, although not one I expect he'll agree to perform with any frequency, Lisa.

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  9. You have such s beautiful garden :) I spied your sunflowers... Sadly the wind has spoiled mine.

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    1. Thanks Nikki. As was advertised (not something one can ever count on), the 'Sunfinity' sunflower does keep pumping out new blooms. Our Santa Ana winds (called "devil winds" here) may be a good test of resilience once they get blowing.

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  10. Well he certainly gets points for playing along! And Andrew had a good laugh when I read to him that there was no expectation of saying why they were his favorites. "These chrysanthemums or whatever they are" had me laughing too.

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    1. I had mentioned that both Andrew and Tamara's FM provided a few comments on their choices when I originally floated the proposal but he'd conveniently missed that bit. When I mentioned this again as we set out on our rounds, he said "well, they're better men than I am", which I translated as "it's not going to happen."

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  11. In the early gardening days, my significant other called every plant a "begonia". He knows better now, although it remains a little joke between us. I wonder if your husband appreciation is, in part, due to a plant's setting in the garden: would Helichrysum be a favorite without the backdrop of 'Cousin Itt'? Same with regards to the Renga Lily.
    Your garden shines with the help of your husband's brawn and talent, even if he can't articulate his selections :-D

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    1. I think the setting definitely had an impact but I decided it wasn't in my best interests to pepper him with questions. I'm not even sure he'd have selected the Yucca, were it not for the huge bloom spike that was all but in this face as he walked along the path.

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  12. I love this post and am very tempted to try the same exercise. I honestly have no idea what he would choose. By today’s experience anything could come up.. I spent the best part of a hot (for us) afternoon battling to remove several years worth of mangy old ivy growth from an old tree stump, ivy which was also invading neighbouring plants, only for him to wander past and say “Oh, I thought the ivy hid the stump rather well.”

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    1. Ha! Yes, the men in our lives do have very different value systems, at least when it comes to plants! If you'd asked your husband to help you clear that ivy, he'd probably have an entirely different perspective on it. My husband developed a deep hatred for Bougainvillea after removing the plants along the driveway of our old house. The Bougainvillea scratched the precious car he'd converted from gas to all-electric.

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  13. I enjoyed this idea of having your other half select their favorite plants! I think he appreciates the contrasting foliage in the several vignettes throughout your garden. Even though I am the gardener and my husband assists, I talk so endlessly about plants, my husband sometimes remembers the names of the plants better than I do!

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    1. Based on the "chrysanthemum" comment, I clearly haven't done as good a job educating my husband, Kay!

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  14. What a fun post! I particularly enjoyed the fact that some of his choices surprised *you*!

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    1. I'd really expected just trees and maybe some of the larger shrubs would be on his list. I'm still flabbergasted by his selection of the Helichrysum!

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  15. Woo hoo! That's so cool. Aren't their choices interesting? I look at it as an exercise in connecting and to listen to what our partners find interesting. I'm surprised he surpassed the Acacia 'Cousin Itt' also - wow. Fun stuff, thanks for sharing. And those yucca...wow!

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  16. Beautiful kris.It would be my pleasure if you join my link up party related to Gardening here at http://jaipurgardening.blogspot.com/2020/08/propagation-and-growing-cuttings-of.html

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