Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pensive Tuesday: Annual Verus Perennial

I've always had a strong bias toward pernnials in my garden. These plants are defined as having a life span of two or more years. If a plant lives a year or less, it's an annual. The somewhere-in-betweens are biennials.

Crassula, a Favored Perennial
Every once in a while, I get a hankering to grow an annual. Not because it's a short-lived plant, but because of some other quality I admire despite its short life. Sunflowers are a case in point:
In other words, they have to overcome, with their marvelous beauty or intriguing aspects, my aversion to annuals. Poor flowers!
Perennials, on the other hand, are the gifts that keep on giving, right? I mean, they can go on for decades with good care. That's a big plus! Bamboo can take over your whole garden if you give it just a little love (not that that is always a good thing).
Black Bamboo CU, MR 2013
But as I've grown older, I've begun to appreciate the fleeting beauty of annuals a whole lot more. I've been growing them more often, and I don't get as melancholy as I used to when I pull up the wizened husk of an exhausted annual, and toss it in the trash. It's become more of a Buddhist Moment for me, a brief meditation on impermanence-- from the trash grows the flower, and in time, the flower returns to the trash. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So now annuals are welcome in my garden. My closest analogy to growing both together is that perennials are like the basic ground of a painting. The fundamental shapes, the background colors, and so on. Annuals add that zip that can transform one painting into a series. Each one somewhat alike, each one different. I tried this approach with a series of photos I'd taken of some beach shells, so see if you agree with me....
Plate of Shells II, Marla Robb, 2013
Plate of Shells V, Marla Robb, 2013
Plate of Shells VI, Marla Robb, 2013
What are your thoughts on the short-lived versus the long-lived plants in your garden? Have you changed over time?

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