Landscaping - How To If You Want To
Betty Sheedy, Portland, Oregon
Reprinted from Portland Chapter Newsletter
The English use the word "plantsmen" describing anyone who grows plants for the sake of the plant itself. They are apt to become collectors of rare and unusual specimens and are knowledgeable about the plants' origins and cultural requirements.
At the other end of the spectrum is the landscaper. He wishes to make his garden visually attractive. He tries to establish harmony in the texture of the foliage. He is interested in line and balance and color harmonies. He arranges plants in groups for effective masses of bloom.
Where do you place yourself? With the planting season close at hand many of our members are making mental notes of plants that need moving; but where? I heard of one mythical gardener who arranged his plants alphabetically.
My observation is that most of our chapter members tend to become "plantsmen". It is almost unavoidable with the wealth of material available to us. We are apt to forego mass effects in order to have more room for different varieties. At the same time many of our members have gardens with pleasing landscape effects. These effects have perhaps been studied, perhaps trial and error or even accidental. Many times this is a matter of providing a plant with a situation it likes.
Some rhododendrons are ideal for rockeries and banks. Others look best in a woodsy setting. Some perform well as screening material along the property line.
In my own garden I have planted a west slope bank with "alpines" allowing them to grow together. I have mixed species and hybrids seeking to include yellows ( R. flavidum and 'Yellow Hammer' and 'Chikor'); whites ( lutescens and white dauricum ); and pinks ( spiciferum and 'Hardizer's Beauty') to break the monotony of the lavender and purples. Aside from the occasional pruning of leggy growth this bed is trouble free and a blaze of color over a surprising period of time in the early spring.
Williamsianum hybrids can form a pleasing bed in light shade. Plant 'Olympic Lady' toward the rear as it will grow tallest in time. The similarity of foliage creates a unifying effect and as the plants grow together all weeding problems are eliminated. I have 'Jock', 'Bowbells', 'Dormouse', 'Thomwilliams', 'Humming Bird', 'Mission Bells', 'Temple Bells', and 'Brickdust' in this bed.
In other beds I have problems and I suppose I always will. Plants outgrow their space, others die. I further complicate the problem by acquiring new plants.