The Birdhouse: A West Virginia gardening journal

Figure and ground

After being away for 5 weeks during the height of the growing season, I was a bit anxious about what I’d find. It actually wasn’t too awful. Lots of the wildflowers I planted from seed this spring are finally blooming– coreopsis, scarlet flax, bachelor’s buttons, & some other things I don’t recognize (lupines? & what are those tiny hot pink ones? They’re cute). wildflowers1 But what also struck me was that I just felt overwhelmed with everything that was growing. Things had definitely been both wild and wonderful. And in thinking about how I was going to rein in all this wonderfulness, the old “figure and ground” problem popped into my head. figure-ground Is it a vase, or two faces? If you don’t make clear what you want people to look at (the figure) and what is background (the ground), your viewer will just get confused. I’ve got so much going on in my garden here that it’s basically all figure and no ground. Or all ground, and no figure. Or, well, what’s figure & what’s ground? You get the point. So I decided that even though the wonderful seedbox plants I’d hoped would return to the bog did come back– and then some!– and that other plants also were restoring biodiversity to the bog area that were taken over by invasive stiltgrass during the summer when our property was in transition between owners, a bunch of it just needed to go in order to provide a ground for the main things I wanted to show in the landscape– i.e., the figure. So I got out the weedwhacker.

Here are some more before/after views:

Now for some closeups: exciting to see some of the things I planted last year finally blooming this year– the pink coreopsis in the image at the top of the post, which all came from one non-blooming plant I divided into 12 or 15 clumps a year ago last spring, and swamp milkweed some of which I grew from seed (what a pain that was!), and butterfly weed which I seeded from last year’s plant also.

This morning I discovered that some of the beautiful pickerel weed I planted last year finally re-emerged, though it was in the process of getting choked out by, yes, the seedbox & stiltgrass. So I made some room for it. Hopefully there will be blooms in August.

The butterflies are out, and so are the fireflies. The weather is absolutely beautiful– I don’t remember any days like this here last July, which was all rain and humidity. And when I get discouraged, I just look at this picture, which was the front yard that confronted us in Sept. 2013, a full year after we bought the house:

Stiltgrass garden, Sept. 2013

Stiltgrass garden, Sept. 2013

Any way you look at it, it’s quite a transformation in 2 years.

For documentation purposes, here are some of the other beds. They’ve come a long way too, but have a ways to go. I have plans.

Bed to the left of the front door. It'll look great once the black-eyed Susans all start blooming, but definitely needs work.

Bed on the other side of the front door. It’ll look great once the black-eyed Susans all start blooming, but definitely needs work. Thinking about taking out about half of those black-eyed Susans, for starters.

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This entry was published on July 12, 2015 at 2:36 am. It’s filed under summer and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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