A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Miss Jekyll Is A True Companion
Monday, August 04, 2008

In years past Rosemary and I have seen many gardens in garden tours and conventions of the American Hosta Society. In the latter, in particular, the gardens have been "museum" gardens in which one genus (hosta) is featured with a few token companions. My friend W. George Schmid has no stomach for such a garden and neither do we. We stress the idea of companion plants. In some cases the companions can userp their role. Such is the case in one of my hosta beds where the ferns and astilbes now trumpet their delights at the expense of my hostas which are languishing in the shadows.

There is nothing worse than a true rose garden. A garden that is a monoculture with stacks and rows of roses. "The hybrid teas are here and Pemberton's Hybrid Musks there," the owner of such a garden might say. There is nothing worse than a museum garden that attempts to impart a further human logic of order.

In a spirit to prevent that very thing Rosemary has put energy for years in finding companions for our circular centre rose bed (it is the sunniest spot in our garden). Rosemary has succeeded with bronze fennel, Foeniculum vulgare 'Purpureum', assorted lavender and one of my favourite perennials that reminds me of Argentina. Verbena bonariense . This tall spindly plant has small blue flowers on the tips and they look good without trying to compete with my roses.

There is another plant that Rosemary loves and so do I. She sows the seeds of Nigella damascina 'Miss Jekyll' (not pink but a very striking blue) every spring and while this annual needs full sun it does not get it, relegated to the feet of my roses. But they manage to poke their little blue and frothy faces here and there to our delight.


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