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Seizing the Day

My sister and her husband dropped in yesterday, bringing me gifts: thirteen plants from their nursery. I had just pulled up some big weeds, leaving bare ground where three Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ fit perfectly... but for a lot of the new plants, I had to go searching for homes — and decide quickly, because Barbara and Andrew would plant them for me, but they were only here for a few hours.

Variegated tiarellas — “Jeepers Creepers” and “Neon Lights” — went under and around taller roses. A perfect spot for them: morning sun to bring out the black centers, and shade from the roses the rest of the day, as well as moisture from the soaker hose.

But it meant I had to give up a dream I’d been holding onto: digging out that spot and enriching it deeply, then putting a hardware cloth cage into the ground to keep out voles, and moving my Frances Williams hosta to this bed from where it’s slowly fading away at the dry foot of a pine tree. A huge project, that I’ve just not had the energy for. But the dream of it has been keeping me from doing anything else with that bed, and it was full of weeds.

Another bed was overrun with wild asters. They’re gorgeous in fall, but they self-seed all over; I have to draw the line somewhere. I decided to clear this place for an evergreen tassel fern — Polystichum polyblepharum, with fronds a shiny deep green on top and silvery underneath.

As Barbara pulled up a particularly big old clump of aster, a little plastic nursery tag fell out of the tangle. It was one I’d recycled, marking on the back “great blue.” I’d put it there to remind myself to keep that plant. I could have found another place for it, or for the fern... but I felt overwhelmed by all the decisions I already needed to make.

I’m sure the genes for that great blue are in many of the asters popping up all over my yard, and I have plenty of opportunities to encourage it still. I know I can’t save every plant that languishes in my garden, and Frances Williams has a reputation for being difficult.

A gardener needs to make plans for the garden — and to be flexible, to take advantage of surprises.

© Copyright 2004 Catherine Holmes Clark

Published in the six Nashoba Publications papers on Friday, 20 July 2004

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