Monday, March 22, 2010

Observing in the garden: does bleeding heart hold the answer?

Bleeding hearts
The work in the garden on Saturday was a bit overwhelming. I say "a bit" because I countered the weeding, planting, and mulch delivering with long moments spent sitting. When tired, I sat down on a local bench or step, and I just took in the garden.

This isn't called lazy gardening. It's called observing. Studying the plant, its growth, examining buds, flowers and stems. Seeing how the wind blows through the plant, how its color plays with its neighbor's color and texture. How scenes from one angle look different from another. Views and vistas, and the checklists that go with everything I'm seeing. "Prune that rose, see right there that tiny new growth? Prune right above that." The list is long. Especially this time of year.

During one of my observation moments this Saturday (also known as one of those times I was sitting on my ass while AdRi hauled a load of mulch by herself), I had an epiphany. Bleeding hearts. Bleeding hearts are a classic mainstay in a cottage garden, a style that heavily influences our garden. We have a huge stand of them in a back door bed, and last year, we planted another underneath the lilac.

As I drank some water and rested my feet, I admired the beautiful bleeding heart. It requires no care, and comes back every year, more beautiful than ever. It blooms for months, and its growth structure is open and airy. The foliage is lovely, and overall, the plant plays well with others. It goes completely dormant in late summer, allowing for summer classics to shine. I give it a little water when it's hot, but cut it to the ground when it's looking ratty in August. It's easy.

And that was the epiphany. Plant. More. Easy.

I've been thinking more and more about steering our garden towards lower maintenance. I love it out there, but a little less maintenance wouldn't be a bad thing. And bleeding hearts are on my list of easy plants. For the lazy gardener? No. For the gardener who wants to balance enjoyment and work in the garden. So I'm on a mission to find more plants like the wonderous bleeding heart. Easy, breezy, beautiful: bleeding heart.


Marisa said...

"Plant more easy." I think this is a fitting slogan for what I've generally been trying to do with my life.

And, next time I'm in Portland, I really want to come and see your garden.

Heather said...

Do they work in the shade???? I'm all about easy - daylilies are a mainstay in my garden!

Brittney said...

I'm SURE you know this, but they divide easy too. Easy and thrifty. I like that :)

whimsy2 said...

Yes, they work in the shade! My tiny front garden gets very little sun (less than 3 hours on even a sunny day), but my bleeding hearts are in their second year and doing beautifully. I love 'em!

Kari said...

I enjoyed this entire post but especially the part where you talked about "sitting on your ass". That part made me laugh out loud and you know how much I value laughing out loud right now with all the STRESS I have going on these days. Your post made me smile. Thanks Lelo.

Anonymous said...

Purple cone flowers. Love 'em.

Rozanne said...

Yeah, I've realized I need to work toward zero maintanence, if possible. The garden feels kind of like a burden and a guilt trip to me right now. That is not how we are supposed to feel about our gardens!!! That photo of bleeding heart is magnificent. I have the white bleeding heart in my garden now and it's lovely, but I think I may want to add some of the classic ones--the ones that are actually "bleeding." I have learned to accept pink, btw.