The planting in my gardens this spring has been like most springs—a bit spontaneous, not well planned. When I see a plant I like, I tend to buy it and bury it and hope for the best, which I’m sure is not the most effective gardening strategy.
Sometimes, although I try to pay attention to each plant’s needs, results are poor. The year before last I planted some new peonies—I like the peonies that I have, but they’re all pink and I want some variety. The plants came up last spring, but did not bloom—and I figured, oh well, next year. This spring? Oh well, they’re back, they’re bare and I can only hope for some peony variety in 2021.
Don’t get me started on the dreaded iris. I’ve interred many an iris bulb in what must be the ancient iris burial grounds of my gardens. The iris bulbs decompose and become fertilizer for sterile peonies, I suppose. I had a small cluster of Siberian irises that I liked and hoped would spread. They were pretty, but instead of growing and spreading, they acted like any passing fad or craze. They were hot one year, faded the next, and now, AWOL. The only irises I have are ones shared by my sister—Cate, what is your iris secret? What hex did you put upon these plants that makes that one cluster of them grow vigorously? Can you exorcise the iris demons from my gardens?
I also have many “flowering” trees that never flower. I had a dogwood tree down by the fence that grew weakly for year and after year for more than a decade, barely holding on, but not dying. One year a few years ago, it bloomed and I thought “good.” But last year the tree was mostly dead and bare of flowers. It was totally dead this year. Now it’s just a stump. I still have a dogwood tree because I planted another—but the new tree is young and has not bloomed.
I have two catalpa trees, which have showy, white June flowers—in the rest of the universe. Mine seem fine, but must be monk trees who take their vow of celibacy seriously.
My apple trees, unlike crab apples, which bloom profusely, remain stubbornly shy.
And then there is the tulip tree. It is approaching it’s second decade of life and is huge. It’s not the largest tree in the backyard yet, but is shooting up and is among the tallest. This spring was the first in which it actually had any flowers.
Two, to be exact. Well, that’s two more than none. Knock on wood, may the curse of the dogwood not be upon you. Don’t fade and die from the energy expenditure of producing a few flowers.
The linden tree by the sandbox is getting big. It’s a pleasant shade tree, that one of these years should have sweet smelling spring flowers. But not yet.
Still, I carry on. Sometimes gardening just teaches patience. Peonies will bloom in their own time. I’m grateful for even two tulip tree flowers, and the trees will try to reproduce when they are ready, not when I’m ready.
And last week I found a four-leaf clover in my yard. It’s been the theme of this summer—me finding those. I’ve also found several at parks. Maybe I’m looking down too much.
I have some annual vines showing—moon flowers and morning glories. I’ve long tried planting these, with little results. But I found a four-leaf clover, if it brings luck maybe 2020 will bring some of those blooms.
And milkweed is spreading and growing vigorously.
A swallowtail butterfly likes the new rhododendron we planted this year. Three hollyhock plants are looking healthy in front—I had hollyhocks in the past, but in recent years they had become members of the iris club and boycotted my gardens.
In life in general, this is a very yard year. We thought the pandemic was bad enough, but our politics and government are so broken that all kinds of other issues are piling on. Still, the plants in the gardens carry on, living life at their own pace, deciding for themselves when to bloom. The spontaneous gardener looks on and gets some pleasure out of the results.
In the birch tree in front, young robins demand to be fed. An angry cardinal squawks at me from near its “secret” nest deep in the trumpet vine, and tries to lead me away.
I comply, and follow. May your nest in that blooming vine yield a good hatching. It’s too well hidden for me to see if you’re raising young there, but maybe that’s a good sign.
Gardening teaches patience and appreciation for what I have, which I would rather emphasize than regrets for plans or plants that don’t bear fruit.