Saturday, May 17, 2014

Taking Risks in the Garden

Once upon a time, I bought a Daphne 'Carol Mackie' shrub.  I bought it because its fragrant pale pink flowers and its green and yellow variegated foliage caught my eye and my nose.  It's one of those decadently delicious fragrances that makes you want to just stand as close to it as you can and sniff it for a very long time.

But daphnes can be belligerent things, and mine was no different.  They're notoriously fussy about growing conditions, but I was certain that I could grow it.  Never mind that we have mucky, heavy clay soil.  I amended it and knew that it couldn't be that difficult to make it grow.  After all, that's what plants want to do, right?

Well.  It didn't last through the first winter, which was a pretty mild one.  I was so disappointed.

A couple of years passed, and I was taking a walk in New Haven, Ind., with my husband, and came upon a beautiful garden.  The owners were outside and graciously let us walk around to see it better.  And there was the most beautiful Daphne 'Carol Mackie' I think I'd ever seen.  I was so envious.

I resisted purchasing another one, because for one thing, they aren't the most inexpensive plant to buy.  And I just wasn't sure I wanted to try again, only to be disappointed once more if it died.  But then I saw an even bigger one at The Perennial Plant Peddler near Findlay, Ohio, and that did it.  I was getting another one.

Daphne x. burkwoodii 'Carol Mackie' at The Perennial Plant Peddler in May 2011

I hadn't seen any in local garden centers, so I did what Ann, the owner at PPP had done years before.  I ordered one from Bluestone Perennials in Madison, Ohio, and it was delivered in the spring of 2011.  It was small when it came and I wasn't sure where I was going to put it, so I got it in the ground in a raised bed we'd made and there it stayed for the summer.

Daphne 'Carol Mackie' in May 2013
 The daphne did quite well that year, and I never got around to moving it to a permanent location.  2012 came and went and the daphne kept growing. I kept hem-hawing around about where I really wanted it and yet another year went by, and that brings us to the Winter That Was.

If any winter was going to do my daphne in, it was last winter.  It isn't the cold that is particularly tough on it - it's hardy to Zone 4 - it's the drainage.  It needs very good drainage.  The raised bed planting no doubt helped.  But I didn't plant it in an ideal location because after all, it wasn't going to stay there, right?  It was in full sun, out in the open with no protection from harsh winter winds - both of those things no-nos.

But it thrived.  This spring, it budded out and bloomed gloriously.  I was ecstatic.

Now I wanted to put it somewhere else.  We needed the raised bed space for growing veggies and it wasn't the proper location for such a beautiful shrub anyway.  We had lost our Scotch broom over the winter (*sniff*) and the daphne would be wonderful placed there, on the east side of the greenhouse, in part shade, protected from the winds.

Just one more problem:  you aren't supposed to move a daphne once it's established.  But you aren't supposed to do that with baptisias either and I've never had a problem moving those.  So I took a BIG risk.  Today, I moved the daphne.

My daphne, in the back on the right, in its new location

I'm scared.  And I'm praying it will survive.  It might be frivolous and inappropriate to ask you to pray for my daphne too, but I'll be grateful if you could at least cross your fingers.


Unknown said...

My local nursery had them on sale last week for 19.99 Cndn reg 29.99. I looked them up and thought "Yep, those will work...but never made it back into town.
May have to pay full price, I need about 6 I think. Seeing your post now I am kicking myself ;0/ they are lovely.

Charlie@Seattle Trekker said...

I have half dozen Daphnes in my garden. They are a little more fickle, but oh so worth the trouble.

Emilia Cross said...

Fingers crossed!

Kylee Baumle said...

erika ~ Oh wow, depending on the size, even the sale price was up there. I would have hesitated too. Six of them...ohhhhhhh, that's going to be absolutely lovely.

Charlie ~ I can't even imagine how good it smells when all those are in bloom! I sure hope mine makes it!

Sue C. said...

Okay, I will pray for the Daphne. Just because I want to see if it will really make it. I have wanted one for quite some time however I hate to waste my time and money on things that feel iffy. I've tried things like that before and usually get disappointed. Maybe this will give me the courage to get one next year and plant in the spring.

Kylee Baumle said...

Emilia ~ Thanks! :-)

Sue ~ Thanks, Sue! You should get brave and try one. I do think it's worth the risk.

Rachelle said...

My garden was particularly hard hit this past winter here in central WI. I had a lot of creeping the zone sorts of plants (which mean zone 5 plants). Many of them had been thriving for 5 years or more. A lot of them are dead or have died to the ground and our trees are still not leafed out or even budded up almost all the yews (taxas) I have seen are dead, along with a plethora of zone 3 and 4 evergreen conifers. Personally, I would have left it in the raised bed, but good luck. Gardeners are by nature optimists.

Jim said...

Come out to Whidbey and you can get all the Scotch Broom you want - it's an invasive species here.

Kylee Baumle said...

Rachelle ~ I'm so sorry you lost so much. It's discouraging, isn't it? It was such a brutal winter. And you're right - we ARE optimists. :-)

Jime ~ Thanks, but I'll bet yours have yellow blooms, don't they? Mine had red. It was gorgeous. I'll miss it, but the daphne - if it lives - is a worthy replacement.

Terra said...

You are a wild woman, taking such risks in your garden. I admit, I do too. I tried to grow gardenias and they died! I hope your fabulous daphne will thrive.

RobinL said...

It's funny, I generally consider myself a risk taker in life, but in the garden, not quite as much! I get tired of digging up dead plants. I know it's not a big deal to grown an acid loving plant in my alkaline soil, but I'm about to try a Sky Pencil Holly. Hey, it's as risky as I get these days!

Beth at PlantPostings said...

Good luck! I'm betting on you and your Daphne! BTW, my family lived in New Haven, Ind., for several years before we moved to Wisconsin (when I was nine). I still have fond memories of Indiana, although I love Wisconsin, too. :)

Lynn said...

Crossing my fingers (and toes!)that the daphne makes it. I've never tried one, but if yours survives I may be tempted.

CommonWeeder said...

I'm visualizing success for you. Visualizing almost always works.

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