Each month, in the back of their magazine, Fine Gardening publishes a full-page color photo called Captivating Combination – a layout of unusual and often stunning plant combinations. I’m often dazzled by these photos (Purple Verbena, red Texas Sage, purple Fountain grass; pink tulips, blue Woodland Phlox, lemon yellow Globeflower; Purple Drumstick Allium, Canna, Black-eyed Susan…) Over time they’ve taught me to see in color, texture and nuance. They are small pockets of surprise, artfully combined.
Now I finally have my own “captivating combination.” I’d like to say the design was purposeful, but I can’t. The Saponaria (on the left) was purchased two or three years ago and the dwarf Montgomery Spruce (top) has been in the garden for a while. It’s the Heuchera that’s new.
You see, I bought five Heuchera ‘miracle’ last year, and planted them in a different part of my garden. But their roots were quickly disturbed (something burrowing? tunneling? hungry?). By the time I realized their distress, three of the Heuchera were destined for the compost pile. I wasn’t sure where to move the survivors, so I tucked this one under the spruce, hoping that a bit more shade and protection would nurse it back to health.
And now here it is — a picture that stopped me in my tracks last week on my way out the front door. I love these colors. I love these textures. And today only, I’m allowing myself to pretend that I have the “Captivating Combination” photo in Fine Gardening magazine.
plants in the photo (in my Redding, Connecticut garden):
Heuchera ‘miracle”: This is very interesting Heuchera (also known as coral bells). During the cooler weather in spring and fall the foliage is brick-red with bright chartreuse to gold edges and silvered undersides. During the warmer months the leaves turn green. ‘Miracle’ produces pink flowers in midsummer. Zones 4-9.
Montgomery Blue Spruce (Picea pungens ‘Montgomery’): An evergreen conifer dwarf that forms a dense, symmetrical cone shape. Attractive, pointed gray-blue needles. Hardy in zones 2-8. Very slow growing to 3 to 4 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide.
Saponaria officinalis: Also known as Soapwort, this is actually a member of the carnation family. It contains high concentrations of saponin, which creates foam in water and has mild cleansing properties. Before the soap-making process was known, Saponaria’s crushed roots were soaked in water in order to do the laundry. The herb is a laxative, but it can be toxic, so internal use isn’t recommended. (info from The Complete Herb Encyclopedia) Can be used as a ground cover. Moderately fertile, well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade. Zones 3-8.