Monday, April 7, 2014

Small but Significant Surprises

Last year, I purchased a 'Zephirine Drouhin' climbing rose. I bought it because its description suggested that it would do well in partial shade, and that's what any plant gets if it's going to sit at the base of the the Secret Garden's entrance arbor. The ligustrum "walls" tend to block out light at their feet. I was encouraged when the rose started scrambling up the side of the arbor shortly after I planted it, putting on a heavy flush of leaves. But nearly 10 months later, that was all it was doing. It had even grown across the top of the arbor, but it produced no flowers.

As usual, I went to the web to get some answers. Most everyone said that they had been disappointed by the rose because it never produced anything. I felt a little bitter at being mislead, but I was still glad to have a plant that was weaving itself through the framework of the arbor. Still, there was a feeling of being unfulfilled.

I was out in the garden on Friday, attempting to get all of the edging installed, when a friend called. I decided to take a break and sit on the swing while we chatted. As soon as my backside hit the swing, my eyes registered a spot of color. I began to shout (sadly, a little into the phone), which I think made my friend worry that I had just seen something horribly shocking. I doubt my explanation made my shouting seem appropriate, but here's what I saw.

Do you see it? In the upper right?

Here she is in all her glory.

Seeing one 'Zephirine Drouhin' naturally makes me want to see many more on my vines, but I could go a very long way on just this one. I don't think I would have seen it had I not sat down to take a break. I had almost lost faith in that plant, and it showed me that there's always reason to hope.

At an open garden event last Sunday, I heard that Gloriosa superba 'Rothschildiana' doesn't do well after its first year. I had lifted the tuber in late fall and protected it indoors, whether that was necessary or not. I bought the tuber as a floral memorial to Wolfie, so it was important to me to protect it. I was a little disappointed when I heard the news because I had just planted the tuber again a few days before. I tried to tell myself that I could get another one each year if I had to, but I went out in the garden on Saturday, and I saw another beacon of hope.

The first shoot of Gloriosa superba

I have to keep reminding myself that nearly every act in the garden is a great leap of faith. Sometimes it's frightening to prune a plant that I know--at least intellectually--needs a drastic trim. I still worry that if I make the necessary cut, I'll never see the plant again. It happens every year with my Clematis 'Jackmanii', but every year, after I've cut it to the ground, it rewards my leap with a leap of its own. Nevertheless, I still fret for the month that I'm waiting for it to show signs of life. It did that  this week.

One week of growth

I don't know why such minor events are so significant to me, why they lift my spirits so much. I know that my shouts of joy either initially frighten people nearby or cause them to laugh. I'm sorry that I occasionally startle people with my exuberance, but I'm okay with the laughter. We should feel joy at witnessing someone else's elation, no matter its source. And I think that we should learn to savor the joy that comes from the smallest of surprises, especially when those surprises remind us that just when we have almost given up hope, something miraculous can happen.

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