I confess a deep love of Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus). Very gauche of me, I am sure. Actually, I have a huge tender spot for cottage flowers in general. That they’re biennials or tender perennials ups my regard for them. I am not sure why this latter category sways me so; maybe it’s their fleeting nature (foxglove, hollyhock, and some delphiniums are also in this category, and I love them, too).
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Wisdom from the sage
"We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it."
--from an essay in "The Long-Legged House"
"The word agriculture, after all, does not mean "agriscience," much less "agribusiness." It means "cultivation of land." And cultivation is at the root of the sense both of culture and of cult. The ideas of tillage and worship are thus joined in culture. And these words all come from an Indo-European root meaning both "to revolve" and "to dwell." To live, to survive on the earth, to care for the soil, and to worship, all are bound at the root to the idea of a cycle. It is only by understanding the cultural complexity and largeness of the concept of agriculture that we can see the threatening diminishments implied by the term "agribusiness."
"Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating."
--both the above are from essays in "The Art of the Commonplace: Agrarian Essays"
Is this so hard to believe?
"An atheist is just somebody who feels about Yahweh the way any decent Christian feels about Thor, or Ba'al, or The Golden Calf. As has been said before, we are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further," Richard Dawkins, 2002.
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Oh, you’re not alone in your love for Sweet William. I too love them and all their beautiful colors. Then again, like you, I enjoy the cottage type flowers. I guess we’ll have to start our own “we love the flowers no one else does” club. I mean, someone has to love them….right?!
I love cottagey flowers too. Although I don’t have any sweet william, and hollyhocks and foxgloves don’t like me. They ditch me after a year, never to return. Who says they are unfashionable? What do they know!
I love Sweet William. This is the first year I’m growing it in my garden, although my grandmother grew it at her house when I was a little girl.
I think that I like the variability of the biennials and tender perennials the most. “Holes” in the garden from those plants that have moved on are opportunities to try something new. Big plants like hollyhocks are great for filling spaces for a couple of years while small hardier perennials beef up.
Plus, I have always loved an underdog. It has only taken me several times of explaining what “biennial” means on a foxglove tag, and seeing the disinterest grow in a customer’s eyes, to make me want to take all of those digitalis and give them a good home. Silly, eh?
Not Gauche. My general attitude is that if the whole world is going crazy over something, it probably sucks.
There are, of course, exceptions. Electricity is pretty good.
But I like these unfashionable things. I’m an unfashionable guy.
And now I’m going to go out and get some Sweet William.
And Blackswamp Girl: Digitalis isn’t for everyone. More for us.
I have a soft spot for them too. I think it’s those “pinking shears” edges on them that get to me!
Well, great, I am glad to see I am not alone.
What I think I really like most about them is how long they take to come into full bloom. If there’s some variation in the light they get, like that first pic shows, the later flowers are lighter or darker.
They also self-seed (albeit discreetly) and their babies can have a LOT of variation.
Pennie, I’m all for a club!
M, try them. They grow well from seed.
Colleen, I think it’s great to redo OPF (Other People’s Flowers), especially those with a history.
Kim, you can box up and send any homeless digitalis to Hank or me. I could trade you a tree…
Hank, I’m with you on electricity.
Lostroses: Pinking shears! Now there’s a term that doesn’t cross my mind often. Do you like pinks, too (regular old Dianthus)? I have a few but don’t like them as much.
I had no idea flowers could be “not cool.” I’m new to the garden and picked up a whole bunch last yr and this yr. my sweet william this year are great. I love any flower that grows beautifully in my garden!
I don’t believe in following trends in the garden. I do what I like and I happen to love sweet Williams and Hollyhocks. And now you can see you are not alone.