Last weekend I picked up my roots and headed to the Sarah Lee Baker Perennial Garden. With the arrival of all the wind this week, I think I made a great decision. Today a nor’easter must be coming through. The yaupon hedge surrounding the garden is perfect protection for a little guy like me and it creates a nice backdrop for the taller plants. Of course another nice thing about windy days in this garden is the opportunity to see and hear all the different ornamental grasses in motion.
Visitors arriving from the Circle Garden will see a rolling sea of grasses on their right. A variety of different types of maiden grass swirl around in the breeze, their seed heads bouncing high like foam on waves. The leaves rustle continuously in the wind, creating a soothing sound much like ocean waves. In front of them burst the fountain grasses. Their bottle-brush seed heads sway stiffly in the wind, marking time like a metronome. In the foreground bounce the seed heads of the wood oats. This plant has a bit of an identity crisis – he has so many different nicknames: River Oats, Wood Oats, Indian Wood-oats, Wild oats (bet he gets teased about that one a lot) and Northern Sea Oats. He’s related to the sea oats, but is just a cousin. Of course his real name is Chasmanthium latifolium, so I just call him Chas. That really gets under his stolon. That’s the trouble you get into when you have too many nicknames.
Large stands of the ornamental grasses command attention in many of the perennial garden beds, but there are other great plants to be found. Tea plants are starting to put out their discreet white flowers. Clumps of goldenrod are sprinkled among the plantings. The compact cultivar ‘Fireworks’ shoots sprays of delicate yellow flowers in all directions. The ‘Autumn Joy’ stonecrop fills the borders nicely with its rich dark pink tones. Joe-pye weed is almost finished blooming, but the seed heads are just as interesting. The cool colors of the Asters provide a nice counterpoint to the yellows and reds of the other flowers. The light colored flowers of ‘Whirling Butterfly’ gaura dance with joy at being in the garden at this time of year.
Today it is a bit wet, but the wind is blowing nicely. The plants in the perennial garden are singing and dancing for those brave enough to come out. I am, are you?