Looking at my small, bare garden beds just before the snows and after the snows are melted away, I realized that my annuals and perennials are, as Russell Page once said, no more than “brightly colored hay”. I had thought by adding a Montauk Daisy or two I might add a little substance, since their stalks persist through winter and resemble a large shrubby sedum. Then, having seen these daisies in bloom on Cape Cod, I have decided they are not the plant for me. Their outsized white daisies and igloo appearance look as though they jumped off a kindergartener’s drawing into the ground.
I needed a focal point, something with substance to place in the corner where two small flower beds meet. A small orange or yellow leaved spirea came to mind, and I was looking at either “Candy Corn” or “Goldflame”. Some gardeners might call spireas “common as dirt”, but in the South they said the same thing about Crape Myrtles, a shrub no one could ever have too many of.
Today- a day after a two inch snow(now melted)- I went down the street to the garden center just to see what might have arrived.
I found this. It was pricey, but it was just what I needed. Small, controllable, and with yellow leaves that would last all season.
This is the “Lemon Candy” Nine Bark , and I think its open and airy form suits this garden bed more than a cushiony , ground hugging spirea. Not to say that if I see a “Candy Corn” at some point, I won’t hesitate to add it in a different bed, perhaps next to the spiky Santolinas that made it through the winter.
Having said disparaging things about the Montauk daisies, I do appreciate that gardeners on the Cape with their wind, sand, and drought may be happy to have these daisies. I think if I had a house on the beach and my garden was a sand dune, the Montauk daisy would look wonderful, looking like an exotic desert plant and having the dunes to itself, its only neighbor the sea side goldenrod and artemesia stelleriana. But I think they would be difficult to place in a flower bed-