Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sternbergia lutea out of nowhere...not really, more out of the past

It's a good day when you learn something new or realize something important, so this is a good day. I found this Sternbergia under a rose in a front bed and remembered how it got there. About 8 or 9 years ago I divided a clump of these cheerful fall flowering bulbs and split the bulk of them between two locations. I remember now though that I took a handful of impossibly small bulblets and distributed them to random spots around the garden. This is the first of these plantings to come to fruition. It is a tough bulb and will inevitably become a clump and, if allowed, will, by seed, gradually colonize the bed it's in.

My epiphany though, was that all of our actions in the garden take different times to realize themselves. This sounds pretty obvious, but hey, maybe I'm not that bright. And anyway all epiphanies are patently obvious in retrospect; its just that explosion of awareness that makes them so wonderful.

I regularly think about time in the garden. Days and years are cyclical and roll along the linear passage of the years, but what about those finite fragments of linear time: 5 minutes to plant a flowering potted plant, 60 days to grow some annuals, 100 years to flower a Century plant, a lifetime to grow a mature shade tree. a year and a half to go from a 1 gallon pot to a beautiful garden perennial. And they are all layered on themselves like paper mache. I have always though that the idea that we had control over our gardens performce and evolvution was a bit of hubris. I'm not smart enough to do all those calculations. There's a lot of serendipity going on, or maybe the universe is helping us?

Sorry about the 4th paragraph but I have one more observation. If you are starting a garden you are waiting for results so its good to do the things that will give you a quick return; hardscape, annuals, perennials, a few big plants. Now the important part. Just because you're in a hurry don't neglect those plants that will take a long time to mature. Plant a Stewartia early on. Or a shade tree if you really want shade. They will take 20 years to mature, but procrastinating will only make you wait longer. Plant perennials that you want to colonize like asarums, or Pachysandr procumbens, or Trillium grandiflorum. Trust me, the time will pass!

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