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Garden Reports and Rejoicing – April 16

My entry garden is entering its fifth summer. Some plants are growing gangbusters, while other are of the “slow and steady wins the race” variety. A few, however, are missing in action.

I like to plant in groups of odd numbers. Unless the plants are framing something, such as the two ‘Soft Touch’ dwarf white pines in the photograph below, I never plant just two of the same variety. Four is out of the question, since even if you stagger them they somehow end up forming a square.

No, my gardens are planted with groups of three, five and seven. If I had more space I’d extend that to nine or thirteen. More is more, and it’s important to be odd.

So here I am, entering my fifth growing season on Poison Ivy Acres and I see that in several places the third plant has died. This spring I see two Nepetas, two ‘Pinot Gris’ Heucheras and two Calaminthas, and that’s just at the front of one garden. It’s maddening.

Now I have a choice. Option one is to buy another of these plants and restore the group of threes. I could also dig up the two remaining, relocate them or toss them out, and put something else in that part of the garden.

I think I’ll do a bit of both. I will move and regroup the Nepeta, buy another Heuchera, and transplant the Calamintha.  While I’m out there with the shovel I think I’ll take the opportunity to remove the ‘Rozanne’ Geranium imposters and replace them with something new.

Whenever possible in life, it’s helpful to see change as an opportunity, even when we might not have chosen that particular circumstance as the ideal time to be adaptable.

Things are popping up early in this warm spring. The two 'Soft Touch' dwarf white pines remained lovely all winter as they flank the steps up to my vegetable garden. But some perennials didn't make it.

The red circles show where a Heuchera, Nepeta and Calamintha died. Time to look at all of the places in this garden where things may not be doing well. Time to get rid of some plants that have annoyed me for four years, like the Geranium Rozanne that isn't really that variety. (Where did I buy those from? I wish I'd kept a record of that...) Time to plant a few new varieties...I just ordered six new Nepeta from Digging Dog Nursery. Time to get excited!

10 comments to Adapability

  • Duncan

    not enough water early on at the end of winter/beginning of spring??? I’m guilty of the same so am getting the hoses and sprinklers going so I don’t have more of the same results…

  • Duncan,
    No, I know that these were all plants that struggled all of 2011 in response to the drought and heat of 2010. They were feeble all last summer, but have now checked out completely. This season is already dry – I’ve been watering for two weeks – unheard of in April!

  • It’s a bummer that some of your plants didn’t make it this year, but I always love the positive spin you put on everything that happens in your garden. Truly, it is so inspiring! (as is your garden pictured in this post – wow.) Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks, Aimee. I’ve always said that you aren’t a real gardener until you have plants die on you… 🙂

  • Yes these kind of plants usually take a couple of years until they have developed a root system extensive enough to tolerate drought conditions.

  • Deb

    CL — For more Nepeta, you can simply take cuttings and stick them in the ground where you want a new plant! Nepeta is a mint, and will propagate very nicely this way, especially if you water that spot enough to keep the soil hospitably damp for a week or two…I’m so enjoying reading your posts — thanks!

  • Good idea, Deb! I’m currently on the fence about whether I want to do more of the 6 Hills Giant or go for something more showy, such as Nepeta ‘Blue Dragon’. Any WholeLifeGardening readers growing ‘Blue Dragon’ now?

  • Joyce

    My first thought was on the same wave length as Deb’s…where you have only two of three perennials remaining, divide one of them to make three. If you lose THEM, then you will again have an odd number (alas, one)… but OK because that remaining plant is likely pretty well established.

  • […] Fornari really summed it up for me (without even knowing it) in this recent post on her spectacularly inspiring blog Whole Life […]

  • Oh wow, I love your flagstone path, and the stonework in the stairs and wall.