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Report From PIA – July 8

Finding a new plant, putting it into the garden, and watching it grow is one of the pleasures of a gardening life. It occasionally happens that the plant turns out to be a dud at best or invasive at worst, but most of the time that experience of discovery is interesting and pleasurable.

Because they change and grow, there is always an element of surprise in learning about a new plant. Our selection might have one habit in the pot, but develop very differently in the garden. Anyone who has planted an aster fresh from the garden center in the fall, and watched it change from a full, clipped and growth-regulated dome into a six-foot, leggy wild child the following year has experienced this sort of shock.

Other changes aren’t as astonishing or unpleasant. I bought my Stewartia for the peeling bark and white flowers, only to be delighted by the spring buds and fall foliage color.

What if we assumed that every new venture, relationship or experience would also change, grow, and take on a life of its own? Isn’t it a given, just as it is for plants? We can no more be static at work or in a friendship than we can prevent a shrub from getting larger, yet there are times when we think we can keep all from changing.

Looking at my Quick Fire Hydrangea, and enjoying the process of getting to know how it develops over time, I remind myself to take that same spirit of discovery into all aspects of life.

This is my young Quick Fire Hydrangea. It has been in flower for almost two weeks, and today I can see hints of pink among the white petals. This shrub blooms on new growth, so it will flower even if pruned back in the spring.

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