Sunday, April 24, 2011


or Patience (and/or Procrastination) (or Quite Possibly Faith) (and apparently Dithering) Rewarded

It was a close call.  That is, if we keep in mind that we're discussing a very small garden where not much happens, and where the little that does happen gets photographed, given a breathless caption like, "Aphids!" and dressed up in words to make it exciting before being posted on the internet, it was a close call.*  And even then it wasn't my close call, it was the little sun roses'...

Oh, let's start from the beginning.  My first year here, I planted three 'Wisley Primrose' sun roses (Helianthemum nummularium, one of the few Latin names I flat-out adore) beneath one of the desert olive saplings to see what would happen.  (For the record, when I first planted the garden, I wasn't familiar with any of the plants that ended up in it, except for the herbs.  So "I planted it to see what would happen" is kind of a recurring theme.)

The sun roses were beautiful.  They grew with encouraging (but not intimidating) enthusiasm, blossomed wholeheartedly, and withstood that first year's onslaught of pests while being well-beloved of bees.  Once the blossoms were done, the leaves made a nice, thick carpet of greenery over a springy, woody base, in what passed for shade at the time under the tree—the kind of nice, soft, thick, springy, cool place just perfect for a cat, for example, to take long, refreshing naps on.

I was actually trying to photograph the sun roses...
The cat, of course, was Sir Marley.  (Again, although it was more by way of introduction at the time.)  He was touchingly grateful to me for putting in such a cushiony cat bed just for him.  He showed his gratitude by using it well and often.  Luther, on the other hand, was at that elderly stage where he might bark and give chase, but was more likely to say to himself, "Oh, bother.  A cat," and decide that he didn't really need to go outside after all.  Sir Marley was able to nap without interruption. 

The sun roses developed large bare spots, and despite the occasional shearing, have looked silly ever since.  One of them died a slow, lingering death over at least two seasons.  Every year I've thought of getting rid of the others but have kept them in memory of that beautiful first summer.

This was to be the last year, the year the sun roses got turned into creeping germander.  Especially after the killing cold we had in February, they looked terrible.  It was time for them to go.  And yet—I don't know.  I still loved them, I guess.  I gave them a hard trimming and decided to give them another chance.

And suddenly, this spring, they're gorgeous.  They're beautiful, a cheerful spot of sunshine even in my garden's afternoon shadows.  They've taken the reprieve and run with it; they're blooming their little hearts out, and the leaves look thick and green.

If I were a cat, I'd want to take a nap on them.

* Hey, life is what you make of it, but it doesn't hurt to keep things in perspective.

To those of you who celebrate this day of reprieve, of renewed life and joy, a happy Easter!


  1. Sir Marley looks really comfortable and that is a great pose he was giving you. The flowers look great and the last shot of your garden path is beautiful. Your cat should like strolling the path or resting amongst the flowers.

  2. How wonderful to get another chance and make something of often we do not...the garden is so beautiful with their bright color...Hapy Easter to you too Stacy

  3. So is that just what those roses need, a real hard trim to let them come back anew? Is this just new yearly maintenance for you?

  4. I love it. Plant resurrections are what I live for as a gardener. A lovely reminder that most of what happens in our gardens is in hands far greater than ours :)

  5. Town Mouse wrote that she was taught - you are the fire. And Susan Tweit writes about pronghorn antelope dethatching the prairie. I tend to prune very lightly - but am learning to think, elephants once stomped thru here. Prune hard! Hard lesson ;~))

  6. I tend to hang on to plants for sentimental reasons, too. And I forget that sometimes things need to be cut back (I'm a lazy gardener). Glad your sun roses are shining! They are beautiful!

  7. I anthropomorphize pretty much everything so if I ever liked a plant, I take it personally if it has to leave!

  8. Very gorgeous! I think if I were a cat, I'd totally take a cat nap among them, too.

  9. I have learned, mostly by virtue of procrastination, that sometimes when you think a plant is on the way out, it makes a miraculous recovery. I'm still glad that I didn't get around to replacing the Silver Ice daylily the year it didn't make it through the winter (I thought), because the following spring, there it was again. I've also learned, despite my desire to be a kinder, gentler sort of gardener, that sometimes plants respond very well to threats and intimidation. (Sir Marley looks irresistible. :-)) -Jean

  10. You were right to give them another chance...they are stunning. And your kitty is so cute. I have often seen spots in the garden and wished I were small enough like a cat to wallow in them and enjoy them.

  11. I find that so often happens. A tree that hasn't bloomed in 15 years, and you are determined to take it down THIS SPRING and then it blooms. Plants are so funny.