AZALEAS. A few quickies today, beginning with a report from the Azalea Belt. Washington Post writer Joel Lerner recently ventured to suggest that azaleas be used only as accents, a bit of heresy I venture to agree with. This photo and a previous one - scroll down 3 posts - illustrate that excellent point. Joel also urges readers to resist buying one each of every color and instead stick with just one color. And if I ever find an example of that, I'm sure I'll prefer it, too.
Before I leave the subject, I know someone will ask why I think azaleas should be used sparingly, so let me answer that up front. Because they're A, overused, even in such inhospitable spots as full sun; B, rarely pruned correctly, if at all; and C, add so little to the garden after their two weeks of glory. For all those reasons and surely more, dissing azaleas has become common sport among garden designers, even as homeowners cling to their beloved mounds of fuchsia.
ON FAME. Readers of Garden Design Magazine will find an article and photo spread in this month's issue about none other than Susan Harris. Ooh, could that be Takoma Gardener? Well, as my mother would say when someone asked if the famous television writer and producer was her daughter, "no, unfortunately." So I've been "not the famous one" for my whole adult life and I've been fine with that, although surely my mother would have preferred I'd given her better bragging rights at her weekly bridge game. But now I learn that the fabulously rich television Susan Harris and her equally successful husband have one of the most beautiful gardens that money can buy. And thanks, Garden Design, for rubbing my nose in it.
INDIGNITIES. I was doing some plant rearranging yesterday, performing slight redesigns in practically every border, and feeling totally in the zone. Visions of greater and greater beauty filled my thoughts - until a big splat of mourning dove shit landed on my scalp. Suddenly out of the zone, I was comforted by the thought that even the famous Susan Harris could experience birds shitting on her head. But my next indignity was the kind that only true dirty-fingernail gardeners experience. It was in my attempt to divide an overgrown ornamental grass and failing with almost every tool in my well-stocked tool shed that I found myself literally wrestling with the damn thing, and losing. I suppose the the lesson is to divide sooner or enlist neighbors to help. Or just do what television producers do - write regular checks to the gardening service.