I have been told on occasion that I must have a green thumb. Nothing could be farther than from the truth. The reality is that I get plants, indoors and out and if they live, they live and I keep them, and if they die I don’t get anymore of those. Through a process of attrition I have learned what will survive with a minimum of care. Nothing exotic for me. If it looks exotic and pretty that’s fine but I have a rule. I only plant it once. And none of this put it in in spring and take it up in the fall. If you can’t make for a whole year – too bad – no second chances – usually.
I have broken that rule once in a while, but not very often. As a matter of fact, when we built the new house and I had to start from scratch, there were two plants that were supposed to be good to -40. Both were evergreen types and had a pretty little spring flower. I think one was pink heather and the other was bog rosemary. I lost about half of them over the first winter and decided to break the rule and replace them. I should have kept to the rule. Many of the new ones died and most of the ones that had survived the first year succumbed. I gave up on them and have moved on to the next. I do try to pick plants that are fairly cold tolerant needing little care. The no care rule extends to mulching over winter also.
The only exceptions are the few annuals for the flower pots and the petunias along the stone steps. There is a lot of gravel just a few inches below the ground and I can’t really plant much there except some shallow rooted annuals. I have managed to get some daffodil bulbs going and I wanted something to cover the ground when they die back. I never liked petunias much when I was growing up but I decided that the spreading wave petunias (wave means expensive, you know, as in wave your money goodbye) would be a good choice. They have actually done very well there, spreading up to a square yard each and lasting well into October. Last year I had a few volunteers come up in mid summer quite far from the stair area. I never knew that they could come up from a stray seed so I thought how lucky I was and perhaps that birds had helped spread them. This spring when I went to look and see how everything had survived the drought of the fall and the very cold winter, I saw what looked to be petunias coming up where I had planted them last year. Surely not. In the spirit of doing the minimum of yard work, I decided to let them alone for a while and see what they might really be. I went ahead and planted some wave petunias just in case I was mistaken (which was most likely given my plant identifying skills). Low and behold after a few weeks it became apparent that they were indeed petunias. They are starting to bloom. The flowers are a little smaller than this year’s new ones and I can’t tell how much they will spread, but I love the fact that they have reseeded themselves. I have more coming up about 25 feet away. The colorful petunia blooms are quite lovely coming up in the midst of the vinca where they were never planted. I think I’ll let them stay.
Oh, and I asked my mother and aunt who they thought planted the hardy peonies and both agree that Grandma was not a flower garden person. Great Grandma must have planted them at some point. Neither could remember the first time they remember seeing the peonies, but they must predate the early sixties. That means they really are 50 to 100+ years old. I am betting older rather than younger.