Flower and Leaf Collage
Jeanne DeBenedetti Keyes
The other day while playing..er..working in the garden, my six year-old daughter thought it would be fun to play "restaurant." I had just turned over most of the cover crop in the vegetable garden. No veggies here for dinner, but she managed to find a collection of interesting items. Now, mind you, I would not eat these flowers and leaves; however, they are beautiful and make a very colorful plate of “food.”
The plate is Hosta ‘Blue Angel’, which holds its own against slugs because of the pleated leaf. This is a large hosta at 2-3 feet in height and width. The leaves can be as wide as 18 inches. I find this plant to be relatively drought tolerant, once established, and it doesn’t mind a little morning sun.
For our main course, we have a lush, deep pink Camellia japonica with buff-colored anthers. The cultivar is unknown to me. It is extremely late blooming this year, possibly due to the cool spring weather in March.
The lovely yellow flower, one of our side dishes, is Paeonia lutea var. ludlowii, a Chinese tree peony with delightful, serrated, divided leaves. Tree peonies are not fussy about soil type, enjoy full sun to partial shade exposure, and are happy with average to moist soil. In time, this plant may grow to 5 to 6 feet wide and 6 to 10 feet tall.
Our other side dish is a purple tall-bearded Iris (Iris germanica). This flower is an antique variety with smooth petals instead of the ruffles of modern hybrids. I love the tiger-stripe pattern of the falls or lower petals. Tall-bearded iris appreciates average rainfall during the growing season but prefers bone-dry soil during dormancy, roughly July and August in the Pacific Northwest.
Around the edges of our plate, we have one of my favorite maidenhair ferns, Adiantum pedatum, Western Bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa), native orange honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa) and a beautiful Japanese maple leaf (Acer japonicum). All of these plants love a cool, shady spot, needing little care in all but the hottest weather. Dicentra formosa goes dormant for the summer, but these other lovelies would appreciate a nice drink of water to look their best.
I found this collage quite endearing, if a little bruised around the edges by small, excited hands. Could this be a belated Mother’s Day gift?