I was reading  in the weekend papers, about the 40 layers of thin pigment Leonardo used to create the smokey subtlety (called sfumato apparently) of his iconic image.

I am quite sure this is heresy, but I wish he hadn’t!

 The prissy, ‘none of you can quite work me out’ look gets me.

Or doesn’t get to me, which ever way you look at it.

‘Are you warm, are you real, Mona Lisa?’ asked Nat King Cole? You see, he didn’t get the ‘mystic smile’ either. Personally, I think that Leo never intended her to smile and just overdid the sfumato around the mouth.

No such doubts with another ‘Mona’:

Ligularia dentata ‘Desdemona’

This particular ‘Mona’ is a bar room hustler out of the Wild West.

No subtle sfumato here!

She’s all gussied up and rarin’ to go.

The slap has been applied with a trowel.

What you see is exactly what you get.

This is one of those plants which I use to grow on the north and shady side of a huge, hot themed border in average garden soil.

But, as you’d expect Mona’s a bit of a lush. She liked the aspect but not the soil. A hardened drinker, of all the hundreds of plants in that border, she was always the first to flop when the barrel ran dry.

Here she thrives streamside, in heaps more sun, and never wilts:

She is tad outré in this rather naturalistic stream. But this stream is not in fact natural –  it gets turned on by a tap and therefore I am going to develop a very flamboyant hot stream!

So Hemerocallis, Astilbes, Hostas and irises etc etc are gradually working there way from other parts of the garden. Even the ferns are going to be the exotic Royal Fern.

Back to Mona. If she has a problem its definitely not her remote unapproachability! The slugs and snails love her! As you will see from the leaf damage. But this does in fact represent all of the slug and snail damage throughout the entire growing season.

I tend to do a couple of quite ruthless slug and snail treatments very early on. Then I really do let nature take its course. At least partly because there is a lot else to do in the gardening year rather than just fuss about pests the whole time.

So if you bear that in mind, I do not think the damage is actually too bad.

I like this Mona, enough to persist. In fact I want more of  this Mona.

And she is going to be cloned this winter.

She won’t mind, because she is a straight forward, gutsy girl, rather than Nat King Cole’s ‘cold and lonely lovely work of art’.