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Report From An Opinionated Gardener – April 25

For an out-of-control plant person like myself, spring is downright dangerous. Temptation waits in catalogs, on line, and most especially at garden centers. Walking though the perennial section or nursery at this time of year is just asking for trouble.

And today I succumbed. I need a selection of plants for a part-shade area on the side of my property. I have a couple of plants in mind, and of course I’ll include some Hosta, but as I walked through the garden center I fell for a plant, purchased it and brought it home. This happened despite my best intelligence and intentions.

I fell for a Pieris japonica ‘Flaming Silver’: variegated foliage, pink new growth and fragrant flowers. Yummy. The tag says that it grows 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. Right. As they say in New York, if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you. Online sources say this shrub gets to be 6 feet tall. I haven’t had the courage to see what Michael Dirr says. The bottom line is I don’t care how tall it grows…I just want it to live.

If this plant, or any other I fall for doesn’t survive? Regrettable, certainly, but not tragic. The thrill of discovery and the rush of confidence or hope is worth the price of the plant all by itself. Not to mention the appeal of gambling that you might be the person who is able to grow this beautifully when no one else can. That speculation is a high all by itself.

Helen Keller is often quoted as saying “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” I don’t think she was a gardener, but this certainly sums up how we plant people feel in the springtime. Gardening is daring risk or it’s nothing at all.

If you've planted it and it's died, I don't want to know. Let me be in love for a month or two, please.

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