The only gardener I know who got things right first time is God. And don’t you know that Adam, as caretaker of that perfect garden, moved the plants around? Gardeners do that. We can’t help ourselves. Most of the elements in our gardens have moved many times. We adjust for location, lighting, presentation, and sometimes just because I love to dig and Shawn loves to design. Would that every garden designer be paired with a willing digger!

Often a plant’s response to our environment triggers its relocation. I uprooted and moved the yarrow to the compost bin the second season after we introduced it and vigilantly eradicated its progeny until we erased all trace. OK, sure, I know. Seeds are down in the soil waiting to be released at some future date, but let me think I did a good thing.

And then there is phlox. I’ve watched Mom pull a piece of phlox from one location, scratch a hole in her West Virginia clay, and drop that plant in. Within a couple of seasons she enjoyed a showy display of phlox cascading over the stone wall that Dad built.

But the phlox that John plants? I amended the North Carolina clay until it is humus-rich, but my phlox experiments failed season after season. Multiple varieties, various locations, and careful tending helped not at all. Until we found the perfect spot.  That single stalk of hope spread during its first summer in the garden and gave every promise of an ostentatious display of color the following spring.

Did the dream come true? Alas, only a few blooms appeared! On an early morning weeding expedition I discovered the cause. One rather rotund rabbit parked herself in the center of the patch and turned like a locomotive at a roundhouse to gobble phlox until little phlox remained to gobble. What a pig!

I rescued the remaining phlox and moved it to the end of a path under construction. (See Choosing the Right Path). A few buds flowered that season. So far in spring 2017 we’ve fooled Mrs. Rabbit, or perhaps she became hawk food. The phlox is beautiful, and we are glad we did not give up on it. And my gardening hope is high that the display might expand season after season.

As a boy my favorite wildflowers were hepatica and bluets. Both grew in abundance on the West Virginia hills surrounding my home. Now I’ve added the trout lily to the list. Trout lily, also called dogtooth violet or Erythronium americanum if you prefer, grows in colonies in the woodlands of the mountains and piedmont in North Carolina. The presence of those petals dancing in the breeze is a sure sign of spring’s arrival, if the yellow pine pollen covering everything is not announcement enough.

Bluets – original watercolor by Amanda Rae Wright, © 2010

Trout Lily also called Dogtooth Violet

We successfully transplanted a few trout lilies from land that was to be developed and tried several locations to find the ideal spot in our garden. Over several seasons we’ve had a couple of blooms but little multiplication…until now. Two years ago I collected every trout lily I could find in our gardens and planted the lot beside the variegated solomon’s seal. The photo shows the colony has taken root and is spreading. Grow, baby, grow.

The trout lily colony multiplies!

Sometimes in gardening, and in life, we give up too soon. Perhaps Paul was concerned his friends in Galatia were nearing that point. He urged them to keep on keeping on.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
Galatians 6:9-10 NASB

Gardeners expand our patience as we continue to experiment and look forward to the harvest. Get outside today and put your fingers in the dirt. Imagine the possibilities and take small steps toward your dream.

Never give up.