What kind of a gardener are you?
After an unusually hard winter freeze in February, hard as defined both by coldness and length, we are now having a somewhat unusual spring in the garden and I am enjoying watching my plants recover (or not) on a timeline that I have no control over.
A local nursery owner was interviewed on the news a week or so after the freeze and he was asked the obvious question, “Everything looks dead, what do I do?” I loved his reply, the gist of which was… If you are impatient and have plenty of money dig it all out and replant. I would be happy to sell you lots of plants. If you don’t have unlimited financial resources but do have some patience, just wait it out, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what comes back.
Another way I’ve heard this stated is…if it’s dead, it’ll still be dead in a month and then you can dig it out, but if it’s alive and you pull it out of the ground, well, then it’s done for sure.
I am a patient person by nature, so it is easy for me to be patient person with nature as well. I also tend to root for the underdog so if some little plant looks to be wanting to defy the odds and return from the dead then I’m probably going to be willing to wait and give it a chance. I’m not much into perfection, manicured shrubs and massed plantings. I prefer letting things grow, which leads to letting things get overgrown; experimenting with random plants here and there, which leads to me having no idea what the plants actually are but enjoying the variety of textures and colors; and just trying to keep the actual weeds at bay.
There have definitely been some disappointments this spring. The hibiscus that I finally put in the ground last year hasn’t shown signs of life. It had spent 7 years in a pot and was moved into the garage during previous freezes but I thought it deserved a little more root room and a prime spot in a bed. Oops. The caladium bulbs that I planted this spring either were a) put into the ground a little to early or b) dug up by squirrels or c) just being slower to sprout than I expect. There’s something the husband is calling a corn plant that can’t seem to give up enough for me to remove the dead leaves or grow anything new to let me know it’s alive. The blue porterweed that flanks the husband’s favorite outdoor reading chair, that I thought was hardy enough to survive, still looks very dead.
We definitely took advantage of the situation to clear out some stuff we didn’t much like anyways and to prune back plants that had become overgrown and/or leggy. We cleared out enough to be able add more peat moss to the bog garden and the azaleas, which had started showing signs of disease last year got their harshest pruning in decades, we’ll see how they come thru now. The pansies put on their best display of blooms since planting last fall, shouting “we love cold weather” but now seem to be reconciled to the inevitability of their summer death in the heat.
Most days, I take a stroll around the yard, just to see how things are doing. And this week, almost 2 months since the freeze, my plants are still pleasantly surprising me. Check out all these plants, rewarding my patience.
So I’ll continue to cut back the dead, look for the life, and enjoy some patient spring gardening. The three H’s of summer (heat, humidity, hurricanes) will be here soon enough.