Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Problem of Scale

Not the insect -- the relative size of things.  This is something that's been bothering me in the garden lately.   Everywhere I look, even (especially?) in my own garden, things are out of proportion.  Most often, things strike me as entirely too small, even for smallish suburban lots.

Something that's particularly odd is the penchant for very small little flowerbeds, filled with very small, short flowers, ringing big old live oak or pecan trees.  These trees have a diameter of at least 15 inches and that's about the width of the little circlet surrounding them.  It looks like a tiny ankle sock.

I've also become more aware of people requesting very short plants at work.  I think many of them wish to create a multi-layered effect, with taller plants in the back, medium-sized ones in the middle and short  ones in the front.  But too often, the "tall" plant is only 18" high!  Their idea is that the "tall" ones are 18" and they'd like two rows staggered in front of that.  First, I don't know that you can rely on any plants to grow perfectly to the exact size, with less than a six-inch tolerance.  And even if you could, you sure wouldn't see much of the plants, just 6" peeking out from the row in front.  Why not pick a 3 foot plant for the back, or what the heck?  Even 5 feet!

Now to get back to my own garden and perhaps my own prejudice, in the back yard, everything I have seems tall.  The tone is set by the Louisiana irises (there are many).  They're all about 3-4 feet tall, and so are the amaryllis, and so are the phlox, and so are the daylilies and so are the roses and the African irises.  Moreover, the gingers that froze back to the ground last winter are just now (you guessed it) 3-4 feet tall.  So everything seems tall in my garden and short in the world at large.  I'm sure that should tell me something about myself, but I'm too tired to figure it out!

(Red Abyssinian Banana, currently between 3 and 4 feet tall.  Of course.)

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