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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – December 4

I returned home from the garden center in time to see the last rays of the setting sun hitting the red twig dogwood. It was just past 4 PM, but there was still enough light to catch the tops of the red branches. I stopped to admire this part of the rain garden and the contrast between the still green Juncus, the red stems of the Cornus and the tan fountain grass in the back. Not bad for early December.

Winter is all about appreciating what we have now, but gardening is also about optimism and growth. Even as I’m valuing my rain garden plants, I’m looking forward to the following spring. In fact, just between you and me, I’ve got a full-blown case of plant-lust going on.

I’ve been reading about Illiciums and want, no need, to plant them at Poison Ivy Acres. Illicium floridanum ‘Pink Frost’ is number one on my list, followed closely by Illicium parviflorum ‘Florida Sunshine.’

I can order the latter from Plant Delights Nursery, but haven’t found a source for ‘Pink Frost’ yet. There are some disgusting reports online of people picking up a ‘Pink Frost’ “from a local nursery” or at Lowes or Home Depot. I ask you, is this fair? Plants that I’m unable to find, or forced to buy barely larger than a mere cutting, and someone else stumbles across them when shopping locally for Impatiens?

Taking a deep breath, I remind myself, once again, to appreciate what I have now…Juncus, red twig dogwood…and the thrill of the hunt. Any collector knows that the search for that perfect addition to their collection is as satisfying as obtaining the object of their desire.

All of life is a balancing act after all. We try to stay poised between hope and misery or winter and spring. We tell ourselves to stay in the moment and love what we have now…but I’m here to reinforce that a very gratifying part of what we have now is hope and plans for the future.

Here's the curious thing about this garden: See the tall red twig dogwood on the left? Now look closely, and you'll see that there is another that is half the size on the right side of the photo. Actually, there's a third (God forbid I should plant TWO of something) behind the one on the left, but that one is as small as the one on the right. Here are three plants, same genus and species, all planted at the same time only five feet apart from each other, and one is twice the size of the other two. This is just one of the common situations that makes the garden interesting.

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