We plant gardens with any number of goals and challenges in mind, orchestrating hue, height and bloom time for a symphony of color spring through fall. We fill shady spots with hostas and scatter marigolds through the vegetables to keep the bugs at bay. Red-hued monarda (bee balm) is a surefire draw for hummingbirds and butterfly bush well, you can guess what guests flutter by for a visit. I plant delphinium everywhere I can just to lose myself in that cobalt blue.
And if color weren’t enough, I wander through garden centers and page through catalogs for the sheer joy of reading the names of the flowers, delighting in how the Latin and English roll around my tongue and vocal cords.
How can you pass up a flower named heliotrope? Deep luscious purple, its name evokes three-syllable flight followed by a hard landing of explosive consonants. And is there a soul out there who does not think of the Wicked Witch of the West at the mere mention of “poppies…poppies”? Forsythia bloomed in huge golden hedges back in New York. Every spring I thought what a great dedication that name would make for a gardening book.
Coreopsis, euphorbia, cimifuga, lisianthus — don’t they just fill your mouth with wonder? And then there’s wisteria. Many hate its rampant habit. Not me. Wistfulness on the vine, those lavender-tinted clusters. One whiff and I’m back in third grade reaching on tippie-toe to inhale the perfumed blossoms hanging heavy over the wall from the house next door.
But my all time favorite is Party Girl, pictured above. How can you pass up having in your garden a flower that goes by the name of Party Girl? And up to that name she lives! Last year I planted her over there and this year her sister is whooping it up some eight feet over. A couple of their cousins somehow made it to the back yard and are tossing their saucy pink heads back and forth in the breeze.
Next year I’m thinking of interplanting some Bachelor Buttons amongst my Party Girls. Just think of the propagation. How knautia.