In the Garden:
Mid-Atlantic
July, 2003
Regional Report

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What I saw most on my summer vacation: Sheep! Beside the Ha-Ha at Hidcote Manor in the Cotswolds.

I Did Too Plant That!

Coming home from a summer vacation is always an adventure and a challenge. The garden grows so much through time and space while I am gone; it is mostly unrecognizable after a week or two or, this time, after three weeks of unattended growing.

The Ways Things Grow
Of course, while I am away the weeds spring up where there should be none and where there were none before, and my favorite daylilies come in and go out of bloom, and the big, late-season, self-seeded annuals like cleome and Brazilian verbena suddenly tower to my shoulders. By the time I get back, the cut-back shrubs have morphed from woody stubs into blue-mist spirea and butterfly bushes, and the ornamental grasses have erupted into towers of hay that quiver in the slightest breeze. Guess what, I can't see across the yard any more!

Now, moving through the garden requires a lot of swishing and swaying to push aside the overgrowth and duck beneath the festoons of vines, and I carefully take it step-by-step to maneuver and avoid trampling volunteers in the paths. Of course the weather is warm enough now that I don't really feel like doing work in the garden, I'd rather just sit back and sip lemonade and watch the butterflies. So, hopeless jungle it is and happily so.

What in Tarnation is THAT?
But there is always that wonderful chorus of so-called "wow" moments when I discover some plant has unexpectedly outdone itself in a fit of serendipity. This evening, while relaxing on the patio and enjoying the coolness of twilight, I noticed an unusually huge leaf. A very tropical-looking dark green leaf, a slightly rippled leaf the size of a large lamp shade, high up off the ground and waving to me across the yard now lit with fireflies. It appeared to be sprouting through the blue-flowered pickerel weed in my "formal" fish pond garden. I sure didn't remember planting anything quite like that in there!

So I worked my way over to it in the thickening darkness, dodging through overgrown daylilies and trumpet vines, picking my way through the volunteer hardy geraniums and ajuga crowding the step stone path, and ducking under the redbud branches. I clambered onto the granite boulder next to the peonies for a good view.

Oh wow! By gum I did too plant that!

At the very last minute before leaving town, in absolute desperation, three weeks ago I plunked a modest pot containing a barely sprouted elephant's ear into the shallow edge of the pond, hoping that would keep it moist enough to grow happily during my absence. That monster is four feet tall now and just as wide. I love such happy surprises.

Note That One for Next Time
I hope I remember to do that again next year.


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