Freeze and Thaw

This time of year in the garden feels a little hard to bear. The weather is a tease, and I’m holding my breath, hoping for everything to go right.

The first years of this garden, of any garden, are about learning the lay of the land. Since I’m working from a plan, there haven’t been so many casualties as there might have been, even with the unusual weather and my risk tolerance level (fairly high). On the other hand, each plant placement is weighted with more expectation when there is that forethought. So the bated breath is partly about wanting to see my little friends come up safely, and partly about seeing if I was right. Like report card time.

The things that haven’t worked out have been such disappointments. The cost of the plant is lost, and the time and effort of getting it and trying to establish it. Also lost is seeing how it would fill its place in the bed. An analysis of what went wrong must be made, then the decision – try again? or try a different species?

When things unexpectedly live, it feels like a miracle. Actually, nearly everything growing feels like a miracle right now. A major one being the appearance last week of a little sprout from a plant that I bought at the Hardy Plant Society Sale last spring. After careful planting, its two delicate little leaves wilted and it entirely disappeared. It’s a rare plant, and its kind are known for being tricky to transplant due to their long taproot. So even though I had been so careful with it and made a special soil mix for it, I wasn’t shocked that it seemed to curl up and die. But.. apparently it had just had too much and decided to call it quits for the year and try again next season. Transplant shock can cause early dormancy. So I really hope that little plant and the other precocious souls – hardy impatiens, the apricot buds, etc. – have been able to withstand this recent freeze.

I saw a beautiful sight today: the sleek purple stalks of Baptisia pushing up. The one I have is ‘Moonlight’ with very pale yellow flowers. It’s a cousin to my old familiar prairie plant, false wild indigo. Both are good nitrogen fixers, pretty cut flowers and a host for butterfly larvae.

About Mulysa

I love my work as a landscape designer and artist. When I'm not planning homesteads or working in the studio, you'll find me hiking, photographing, gardening, baking, cooking vegetarian meals with friends, reading and working on sustainability issues...with my baby on my hip in Portland, Oregon.
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