I’m not one to anthropomorphize. In fact, I’m pretty harsh about letting people know when to throw their infested or diseased plants away. Let go already; it’s dead! Out! Last week a ‘client’ was suggesting decorative planting about a rock outcropping along her long driveway. It’s a long driveway. I suggested the rock was fine. It wasn’t one of her daughters; it didn’t need to get dressed up for the party. It’s beautiful, striking, exactly the way it is.
That said, some plants remind me of people. I worked with a gardener that was/is elegant — tall, long-legged. beautiful. architectural. cosmetics diminish her. she’s tough and has a lot of attitude too. but delicate. she writes well when she gets around to it and she sings, splendidly and seductively. she’s expressive. One day she was standing beside Macleaya cordata. Perfect.
That it grows up on the 9th Street Branch is splendid and seductive. That nobody planted it there, or cares for it — I succumb.
William Robinson noted it as a ‘Hardy Plant with Fine Foliage or Graceful Habit Suitable for Naturalisation.’ Piet Oudolf is surprised by how it keeps up (up on the 9th Street Branch), didn’t know it would do so well in dry conditions (me either), and asked for more high res pics of the place in different seasons. Rick Darke, William Robinson’s most recent interpreter, shares some thoughts:
“regarding plume poppy, blog readers would probably be interested to know the plume poppy is a close relative of the cultivated poppy (both in poppy family) and that although gardeners have long admired the bold texture of its foliage and its grand stature, it is simply too rambunctious a runner for most residential settings, where it begins beloved and is later banished as a weed. it’s a great example of a beautiful but problematic garden plant which is ideally suited to the conditions (low nutrients, extremely sharp drainage, intense summer heat and drought, extreme winter lows (Macleaya is hardy to zone 3) typical of elevated sites an overly aggressive runner is recast as a perfectly-adapted-to-place plant that has all the hardiness and durability required to keep a site like the viaduct green.
p.s. the plume poppy’s bold texture is a stunning complement to the low-growing suite of grasses that covers much of the Viaduct’s surface while allowing the patterns of rails and ties to show through”