Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Little Red for the Holidays

It’s a matter of perspective…really. If the garden were full of blooming peonies, irises, roses, lilies, wisteria…., well, you wouldn’t look twice at a few straggling leaves on a straggly little shrub. No matter that they’re so red they seem to glow from inside. The thing is though, we’ve just passed the winter solstice, an event that makes me happy beyond all reason, and color is at a premium. We takes what we can get. And really those leaves are incredible. Itea is, generously, a nondescript smallish to medium shrub. True, its small flowers are fragrant but that’s a technicality. In the first place they aren’t very fragrant, maybe at a range of 1-5 inches! and in the second, it’s not that nice a smell. Not repugnant, just not something you’d go out of your way for. The longer you garden and the more you read the more you realize that while there are many wonderfully fragrant plants there are a goodly number universally described as fragrant, that will drive you to question your own olfactory facility. Itea is one of those plants, but I love it anyway, for that little surprise of color it offers at the darkest time of the year.


Hypericum patulum, is another deciduous shrub that stubbornly holds onto a handful of leaves through midwinter. There is a planting at the top of China Valley across a narrow grassy strip from the road. Sometimes the stragglers color completely like itea; that’s beautiful.  Sometimes though, they retain areas of green along with the red; that’s intriguing and beautiful. Again, it’s a gentle appeal, gainfully employing gloomy December days, however depressing, as providers of perfect settings for the delicately subtle beauty of lingering leaves.

1 comment:

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