It happens every year. Spring rolls around and as the garden begins to awaken, I anxiously make the rounds to see what has survived whatever kind of winter we've had. Some things burst out of their winter coats like gangbusters to let you know right away that they're ready to get on with the show. Others are shy and keep you wondering if there's any life left in them.
But the time eventually comes when you know that last year's show was actually the swan song for some of them, and it's hard to take. God has said that He doesn't want a single soul to be lost, and so it is with us and the plants we lovingly care for.
I had said earlier that I was making a rule for myself that I wouldn't plant any perennials in the fall. The purpose of making that decision was to plant only in spring and summer so that there was enough time for the plant to become established and better able to withstand the rigors of winter. Of course, I always see something I'd not seen before and want it, so I'm always breaking my own rule. So it should come as no surprise when some of these plants that should make it through the winter, don't.
This year, so far, I've determined that these are goners:
Coreopsis 'Autumn Blush'
4 out of 5 Lavenders
Echinacea 'Harvest Moon'
Perennial Flax (Linum perenne)
Caryopteris 'Black Knight'
Lobelia cardinalis 'Queen Victoria'
Astrantia 'Moulin Rouge'
Sedum 'Cape Blanco'
A great deal of Gaillardia
Rose 'Sutter's Gold' (and I've had this one for years!)
Burning Bush (Euonymus alata)
Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)
Sunset Foxglove (Digitalis obscura)
Rose 'Diana Princess of Wales'
Some of those were planted last fall, but a few of them I've had for a couple of years or more. Romie finds it much harder to deal with losing a plant than I do, and when it happens, he can be heard to declare, "Well, don't buy any of that anymore." Then I have to explain that there can be many reasons that a plant doesn't survive and that no gardener worth his or her salt will last unless they learn early on that you win some and lose some, and sometimes you have no idea why.
So we remember their beauty, mourn their loss, and move on. There is, after all, a bright side to this. Losing a plant means there's a vacancy in the garden. A vacancy that is waiting to be filled by that new introduction you've had your eye on or maybe more of an old tried-and-true favorite.
If you've figured out why the plant was lost, maybe you'll try it again if it's one that you particularly long to have in your garden. I'll usually give a plant two tries before I give up on growing it, especially if it's supposed to grow well in our area.
Then there are those plants that you just really, really want and hate to throw in the towel with them. For me, it's the Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia). I'm sad to say that not a single one of the plants that I planted from Michigan Bulb is yet alive. But I do think I see sprouts in my winter sown container! Just a couple of fuzzy-leaved seedlings poking up out of the soil give me hope.
Isn't this just one of the challenges of gardening? What you kill makes you stronger, isn't that what they say? Well okay, not quite, but we do need to learn to roll with the punches and now I hope you feel better about your own losses. Misery loves company. :-)