In Disney's 1941 animated film, Dumbo is a baby elephant with ridiculously oversized ears. Both his own life and his mother's are made miserable by the other circus animals' cruel teasing, until some crows and a mouse convince him that he can use his ears to fly. To shore up his confidence, they give him a "magic" feather to carry. His belief in the feather encourages him to take the leap into flight when he doesn't quite believe in himself.
All to say, I can never get thyme to overwinter. Culinary, ornamental, creeping, woody—it doesn't matter. It grows beautifully all summer, looks great through fall and the first half of winter, and then sometime between about now and the middle of February, it dies. I suspect water issues, but which ones? Sometimes I give the garden a little water in February if we haven't had any moisture for a couple of months, and that's probably the culprit. On the other hand, it could be the months of preceding drought. Plagued by indecision, I solve the problem by growing speedwell instead.
|Thyme-leaf speedwell (Veronica oltensis)|
I was looking for more information about it online, though, and came across one site (which I can't find again) that said something to the effect of, "If you can grow thyme, you can grow this plant."
Augh! No! I can't grow thyme! If I'd known the two had the same requirements, I'd never have planted speedwell! Suddenly Dumbo's feather has been whisked out of my hands. The last few years of growing V. oltensis successfully have obviously been a fluke, an accident, never to be repeated. The poor little things are doomed.
What did I do last year to manage not to kill it? I page frantically through my garden journal. On February 9, 2011: "Thinking about watering." Then nothing.
Great. What does nothing mean? Did I do nothing? Or did I do something and not write it down? If an oncoming car doesn't have its turn signal on, does that mean it's going to go straight at the intersection? Or is the driver being careless about turn signals? Surely there's a better way of communicating "I have nothing to communicate" than just...not communicating. Maybe something on the lines of "This page is intentionally left blank"? Then again, if I have to start keeping track of every time I don't do something in the garden... No. That's too much work.
Pressured now to decide the late-winter water issue one way or the other, and with the suddenly keen awareness that lives hang in the balance, I'm opting in favor of dry roots. To be perfectly clear, just so that my next year's self has no doubt: I am not going to do anything. I will not water the speedwell until spring. At least if it dies no water will have been wasted.
Does anyone have an extra magic feather they'd be willing to loan out for a few weeks...?