Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Count Your Blessings

The other day I was bemoaning the fact that my garden never seems to live up to my expectations. Despite careful planning and conscientious care nature conspires against me. Whether it's disfiguring snails or woodchucks that mow entire plants to the ground or unforeseen blights or too much rain or too little rain, there always seems to be something that mars the perfection I had envisioned.

Last weekend, however, I had a sudden epiphany. Two dear friends from college had visited from Vermont and we were spending a lazy afternoon relaxing in the shade beneath my Tupelo tree. Through its branches we marveled at the sunlight glinting on a patch of black-eyed susans growing in the field. I hadn't planted them, they had simply appeared, a gift from nature.

Later it occurred to me that I had never planned many of the most cherished elements in my garden. Some, like the cattails that grow by my farm pond or the white woodland asters that bloom each autumn in my Blue & White garden, simply appeared one day, growing from seeds carried on the wind. Others like the masses of Lobelia Siphilitica
Lobelia Siphilitica
Eupatorium Coelestinum 
and Eupatorium Coelestinum that provide late summer color are the offspring of a few plants that have self-seeded with great abandon. Each spring the seedlings pop up in unexpected places, filling bare spots and creating surprisingly artistic combinations.

Ruella Humilis
Even the Ruella Humilis that edges the walkways of my front garden was a welcome surprise. I had never intended to use the plant as an edging. But when its seedlings sprouted against the cobbles, I liked the effect so much that I left them there.

In light of these revelations I've decided to curtail my litany of complaints and give credit where credit is due. While it's true that nature's hand can be harsh at times, her input has greatly improved the look of my gardens.

And in the spirit of giving credit, I should thank my gardening chum, Tish Hopkins, for suggesting that I grow sweet peas up the teepees that support my dinner plate dahlias. For the past six weeks I've enjoyed filling vases with their delightfully fragrant flowers.