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Mystery Flora: A Little Bit Blue

There’s a hilltop above Locust Creek Park in Brier, Washington that’s full of flowers. There were all sorts of delights, some wild, some domestic. I’m not sure which category these fall in to. They were growing on the verge of a driveway, happily overpowering the grass.

Mystery Flowers I

I see them around quite a bit. They’re always a cluster of little delights, a nice contrast to the nearly endless green round here.

Mystery Flowers II

I’m just going to pause a brief moment for a small rant. Lawns annoy me. This is because so many flowers that end up in them are treated as weeds. One day, you have a sea of lovely flowers, creating a miniature meadow: the next, some bugger has been through with the mower and the Roundup and you have a boring green desert. I know folks like pristine expanses of grass. I used to spend quite a lot of time on my neighbor’s lawn in Flagstaff, which was thick and soft and a masterpiece of the homeowner’s art. Any weed that ended up in that lawn was an instantly dead weed: we never did get to see anything bloom in it. You could practically use it as a mattress, the grass was so thick and evenly-mowed. And he went into panic mode the instant a dog appeared on the horizon, because even the possibility that he could end up with a small brown circle due to calls of canine nature was not to be entertained.

He had a willow tree growing at one end of his lawn. There was, as there frequently is under such circumstances, a circular bare patch. He was convinced it was because evil canines were using the tree as a watering post. We had to explain that the tree was sucking nutrients and water out of that area, thus leaving the grass bereft. We found this small island of ignorance in a sea of expertise odd. Then again, he was an astronomer by profession, so the fact he managed a world-class lawn in Arizona is a remarkable achievement anyway. And you should have seen his roses. Their blooms were practically as big as our heads, and they filled the air with the most luscious scent imaginable. They probably survived because the local grasshoppers had already gorged themselves on ours…

Yeah, that was me getting mugged by the Memory Fairy. Yeesh.

Speaking of filling the air with scent, though, you lot can tell me whether the stuff I had my nose buried in was lilac or lavender. I can’t tell the difference. I just know both of them have cones of purple joy, and that planting my face in a bush is one of the best ways to spend part of an afternoon.

Bonus Mystery Flowers I

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple – and probably, if I own a house by then, have the thing buried in it. Purple rhodies, purple lilacs, purple lavender – and a bit of honeysuckle for variety’s sake. Roses, which come in purple varieties. Fuchsias, ditto. The nice thing about the Northwest is, I can have all of these things without drawing down the local water table. This does, unfortunately, mean I shall only be visited by people with allergies for a few short weeks each year, but it’s a small price to pay.

Bonus Mystery Flowers II

Also, willows and Japanese maples, and if I go really wild on the gardening in my old age, we might even do a few cloud pines and a plethora of crocuses and tulips. There won’t be any grass. Bollocks to grass. Up here, moss grows in thick, luxuriant carpets that work just as well, and require a hell of a lot less work, and like it just fine under the trees. There is nothing quite so beautiful as the mossy ground beneath a stately old tree. And when you get different varieties all growing together, the subtle blend of colors and textures is astoundingly lovely.

Of course, all that biology’ll be on only one part of the yard. The rest is rocks.

What will your dream garden be?

Comments

  1. Uncle Glenny says

    Looks like lilac. I don’t know what lavendar smells like but I doubt it’s the same,

    Out near here (Bedford, near Lexington & Concord Mass) they’re pretty common and when they’re blooming and the air gets still late at night the smell is really intense. I used to work really late and bike or drive (convertible or t-top!) home through it; really relaxing, except when the cops pulled me over (who would be out late at night out there?)

    Lilacs used to be planted around outhouoses; apparently they get off on manure & lime.

    Back last century sometime I got some big cans of wildflower seeds which were intended to be used to replace plain grass. Never really worked out.

    Maybe more later; bedtime, scapula hurts, fingers not working well.

  2. Adrian says

    Yes, Forget-me-nots and Lilacs.

    My ideal “garden” would be an Alpine meadow, full of fragile, perfect blooms from bulbs and mountain plants. The mowing, done after the plants have set seed, is fed to cattle and makes the best milk and cheeses. The trouble is I will never be able to afford to live there!

    No offense intended Dana, but I thought you were going to say “I shall wear midnight”!

  3. hexidecima says

    Lavender is a small herbaceous plant, only a foot or two tall. It has a “clean” sent to me, almost minty. Lavender festival in Sequim, WA http://www.lavenderfestival.com/

    Lilacs, your photos, are woody bushes, with the “cones of joy” that are intensely floral.

    I pride myself on my “lawn” which is in reality a meadow of anything that wants to grow there. I alas have to mow it a bit thanks to city ordinances. With all the rainfall PA has been getting we’ll soon have the same environment as the Pacific northwest. :)

  4. Gregory in Seattle says

    A weed is a perfectly fine plant that decided to grow where you don’t want it. Case in point: blackberries. Lovely in the meadows far from the roads, where you can pick whole buckets full of juicy purple berries through the summer; but not so nice when they decide that the rock garden you spent all last year putting in is a dandy place to set up residence.

    For my dream garden, I see a small orchard at one end, probably apples and hazelnuts. At the other end, shading the house from the summer sun, would be a small grove of Japanese maples. Along the far fence would be a vegetable and herb garden. The rest of the space would be a grassy expanse; not a lawn, but a meadow kept short by a milk goat or two.

    *Sigh* Some day….

  5. rq says

    I’m sad I missed this one, would have had it in a pinch!
    I love lilac season because they come in such a variety of pinks, purples and whites these days, and they smell AMAZING (granted, indoors with no space for the odour to spread out, they get a bit too odious). And I always thought forget-me-nots came only in blue, until I saw them here in white as well. Gorgeous stuff!
    Also I wanted to say if you want erratics, come to my country because that’s almost the only geological feature we DO have, and then I saw the size of the one in your post, and yeah. Never mind. :) (By the way, did you have a post a while ago about stepped rivers? Or something like that?)