While I was gardening

The art of gardening and the science of life.

Much Ado about Nothing Much

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Late winter plant catalogs can be dangerous for me.  During days steeped in February gloom, the catalogs arrive proclaiming via full color pictures the plants I must add to my garden this year!   Most plants I have no room for, many are inappropriate for my zone or expertise, and most are above my budget.  But I have the desire to try, and I love those pictures, so I am game.  I am especially drawn to unusual flowering plants not hardy in my zone 8 garden, and I don’t take failure lightly.  Case in point, I made 3 heart-felt attempts to grow Tacca chantrieri and failed each time.  Instructions for successful growth and care were followed to each minute detail but after 6 months of nothing, I grudgingly accepted defeat.

So when I saw pictures of Paris polyphylla and the promise that “Your friends will be intrigued!” and “Your garden will be the envy of your neighbors!”, I decided to give it a try.   I had planned to order the plant the following week but when I saw it offered at the 2007 Northwest Flower and Garden show I decided it was fate.   I proudly brought home a healthy, sprouting rhizome.  Within a month or two I saw signs of life, and by early April the plant sported a tiny flower.  Not the 2 foot tall stately stalk I was promised but the plant was young, spring was cold, and I was patient.  I was certain the following year would bring a stunner.  It didn’t.  No intrigued and envious neighbors stopped by to say “You are one amazing gardener!  How do you do it??!!””  By the third year, the plant disappeared – nothing showed – and I put Paris polyphylla out of my mind and the catalogs in the recycle bin.

Late winter 2013, as I weeded and mulched around a beautiful Yucca gloriosa ‘Bright Star’ (I highly recommend this gorgeous plant) I had planted 6 months earlier, I noticed an odd bloom peeking a couple of inches above the mulch.  I recognized it immediately as the disappearing Paris I had purchased years ago.  I tended it through spring until it died back.  It came up again this year, and again just a little thing blooming a couple of inches above the soil.  Still no envious neighbors, but I have faith that next year it will make me proud.

Because if it doesn’t, I will plant another Yucca ‘Bright Star’ on top of it and call it good.

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Author: dphare2014

Horticulturist, Lead Steward Carkeek Park Demonstration Gardens, Author

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