It's a constant source of delight, the kindness of gardeners. I came across it (again) at an Alpine Garden Society meeting this week. I'm fascinated by some alpines--the impossibly tiny perfections of the cushion varieties in particular--but am not at all sure that I have the patience to grow them well. But last Spring at an AGS lecture, someone mentioned that there were a few plants available (for free!) to someone who hadn't grown them before and they came with the promise of advice from more experienced members in the group. Well, I volunteered and went home with a few plants:
|Draba longisiliqua (with the yellow flowers) and others, surrendered into my care last Spring|
I found the courage to re-pot some of them and all seemed okay; though it's kind of hard to tell with alpines. A summer visit to an expert's garden made me realise I was never going to reach the heady heights of perfection that he has, but I could at least provide the few specimens I had with a good home. I decided to improvise and got a wine box from our local offie, filled it with sand, and nestled the pots in it. This insulates their roots against too much heat (*not* a problem last summer as it turned out) or cold. So, in they went and all seemed well:
|Draba longisiliqua (back left) repotted and sharing its quarters|
We were away a bit in the late Autumn and when I came back I was horrified to see most of the alpines were looking dreadful! They had dried out I think. I thought all was lost, and a while later I got worried too about slightly murky areas of foliage on one or two of the plants. Looked like I was going to fall at first hurdle (I had to work a topical horse reference in here this week).
A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the Draba at least had some healthy looking leaves on it still. And then last week I noticed some tiny flower buds starting to emerge! Still, I thought the plant wasn't really going to recover.
|The same D. longisiliqua last week. |
The tiny flower bud in the middle gave me hope, but the rest was looking scary
Anyway... I brought it along to the AGS meeting last week: I thought I'd better 'fess up to my mentors. Both agreed that it was probably going to be okay. "Oh don't worry, that's what they look like in winter" remarked one of them, although she did mention that the greyish foliage had probably succumbed to a fungal infection. Some kind advice was offered, some other gardeners stopped by to have a look ("wish mine were looking as well" said another, see what I mean by kind?), and all wished me well.
Gardeners are generally a lovely bunch and most often are more than willing to share expertise and plants. In fact, in thinking about this today, I realised that quite a few of the plants in my garden come from other gardeners. Some of the plants came with health warnings as they're serious self-seeders, but I got them when I was not long in this garden, had no money for plants, had little time for gardening (my sons were very young at the time), and had two labradors lumbering and leaping around the place. Self-seeders were a Good Thing in those circumstances. And I still love them; I think it's the serendipity -- who'll start squatting next to whom, who'll elbow someone else out, who'll form a close and harmonious relationship. And the bonus of course is that the plants always remind me of the gardener who gave them to me.
Here's a list, off the top of my head, of the plants in my garden that were gifts from others:
Loganberries, raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries, Alchemilla mollis, Welsh poppy, Feverfew, Rosa glauca, Japanese quince, apple, crab apple and cherry trees, Japanese maple trees, hellebores, hostas, grasses and--last year--some lovely varieties of tomato for the greenhouse. And so, because of such kindnesses, I have a garden full of scent, colour, delicious tastes and wonderful memories. Lucky me.
Have a good week all.