Pots of happy succulents lined the porch railing. “I only grow things that like it here,” said my husband’s cousin as we toured his mountain-top cabin in North Carolina. So obvious it made me laugh. Laugh at how many times I placed a plant where it never wanted to be. Like the azalea—a woody skeleton at the end of a Midwestern winter. Lush cascades of rhododendron roll down the Carolina mountain side. Ha!
Piet Oudolf, the legendary plantsman from the Netherlands, recently came to Chicago to talk about seasonality in garden design. He counters the traditional practice of putting the garden to rest for winter with designs of year-round interest and plants in all their stages of life. The Lurie Garden in fall is a painterly, nuanced vision.
Metaphors grow in gardens. And sometimes I listen to what the plant kingdom has to say. When we lost all the JFK roses, I knew it was time to sell the house.