This picture shows why the experts are forever emphasizing the idea of multi-season "interest," that something ought to be happening in every season in the garden. These so-called bridal wreath spireas line 16th Street near Vine and do they look pooped or what? These shrubs are old-fashioned favorites, but I've never seen the appeal - beyond about a week in spring, that is. For that brief moment, they're spectacular. Then ... they turn brown, a slow death, like this one, and that's it, folks. We're stuck with an unruly, brown and green blob for the rest of spring, and all of summer and fall. (And, oh yeah, it stinks.)

Nothing else in this bed, which is why I thought of the "interest" thing. It's a simple concept that, oddly, is really hard for gardeners to figure out: Plant stuff that blooms or colors up or has an interesting feature (bark, foliage, flowers) in every season. When I interview expert gardeners at home, they all have something going on out there, even in deepest winter. Winter jasmine, or red twig or yellow twig dogwood, or witch hazel.

I'm getting there ... slowly, with a little kick from ye olde bridal wreath. From here on, you'll find me on the other side of the street. Looking for something a little more ... interest-ing.