Have you seen that great dialogue between God and St Francis of Assissi? The one where God asks for an update on his Great Landscape Design (i.e. the natural landscapes on Earth) and St Francis finds the reporting a bit tricky. . .
GOD: So, how are the prairies going? Boy was I on a roll when I thought to combine some lovely grasses and wildflowers. Those plants have been tough enough to look after themselves for millennia, and they’ve been a lovely home for all the butterflies and birds.
ST FRANCIS: Well…. there have been a few changes. People have been moving in over the years and lately they’ve wanted to grow lawns instead. The way they look at it, your prairie plants are weeds, and weeds need to be pulled or sprayed.
GOD: Oh… well, I guess everyone is entitled to their own view. I bet they were happy with those bumper rains recently?
ST FRANCIS: Yes and no. It’s certainly helped to keep their lawns green but the grass did grow more quickly.
GOD: That must be good news, surely? More grass means more hay bales.
ST FRANCIS: But we aren’t talking hay here. In fact their lawns cost them a lot; they have to pay someone to mow it more often (if they don’t do it themselves) and then they pay to throw it away.
This dialogue goes on, pointing out how much work gardening can be, if you work against Nature. And that’s my point here. I have nothing against a lawn – I have one and I value it highly – but maybe we could work with a gardens’ natural setting rather than force something alien to grow where it’s not comfortable. It’s as simple as this and it’s called “Eco sense” or “Eco gardening”: if you grow plants that naturally perform well under your specific set of conditions – rainfall, temperature, wind and whatever else – then you’ll have a beautiful garden. And here’s a close look at just three absolutely beautiful plants that are tough enough to fit the bill almost everywhere. Listed alphabetically (to prove I have no favorites amongst my favorites), they are my Storm Agapanthus, Flower Carpet Rose and Volcano Phlox, and I am happy to crow about them . . .
Storm™ agapanthus: Take a look, above and below, and tell me you don’t have a place in the garden for a sea of these bullet-proof plants. You might know agapanthus better by the name of Lily of the Nile, but it doesn’t matter what it’s called but rather what it is. This is a plant that smothers out the weeds and covers itself in a sea of florist-quality flowers, literally for months over summer. There’s Snow Storm’s white (below) and Blue Storm (above). If you’re a US gardener, these agapanthus are happy in Zones 8-11.
Flower Carpet® rose: Unlike old fashioned roses, modern roses have a healthy reputation for being able to go through tough times while still looking fabulous. And isn’t that what any gardener wants? Flower Carpet roses have made a solid contribution towards this shift in reputation because they don’t need to be fussed over. No fancy pruning or spraying’s necessary. Just below is a shot my daughter Annamarie took in our gardens earlier this month (it’s mid-summer here in Australia) of Flower Carpet Appleblossom.
. . . And here (below) is a shot of Flower Carpet Pink Supreme, which reminds me why we all want to grow roses in the first place… because they speak of romance.
Volcano® phlox: Phlox is a gorgeous plant but most varieties have non-stop problems with powdery mildew – but not this one (see below). Volcano Phlox is everything you want in a phlox. It smells heavenly. It has lots and lots of flowers. It’s dense and bushy and it has a natural, bred in, high disease tolerance. Again, US gardeners (who are phlox growers from way back . . .) will be happy to note it’s happy to grown in Zones 4-10. Oh and there are many, many colours to pick from.
If you enjoy these photos, check out our new Garden Quotes to Bring Cheer and Sooth the Soul post, celebrating Flower Carpet’s 20th Anniversary