Plants Gonna Die, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

Plants Gonna Die

On this morning of a frost-filled night, there is but one thing to say, “Plants gonna die.”

Most of my clients will credit themselves with killing half the plants in Western North Carolina. And, if you consider the number of plants they have purchased and planted, they may not be too far off in their accounting. But, there is this odd notion held by almost all garden center-goers: They do not think plants die (unless at their hands). They have this tricky thought that if not for them and their lack of ability in the garden, plants would live forever. They most especially believe this regarding trees. To most novices, trees just don’t die.

Case in point. My favorite, hand’s-down-question-so-far-this-year:

What can I do for my dead tree?

A very kind gentleman, about 40-ish with a small child, grabbed me in the parking lot, wondering if we had anything to help his dead tree. A chainsaw? We don’t sell those.

He was serious.

They also think they are at fault for plants refusing to bloom (here they are generally right), or they go in the opposite direction and do not understand why plants don’t live in their standing water? Can’t I just put gravel in the hole? Or why don’t we have vines that grow in full shade, bloom all summer and are evergreen? See (they show me a picture on their phone)? I have a trellis right there.

Geez. If I had the plant that was evergreen and bloomed all summer and grew beautifully in dense shade, I’d be counting money instead of days between paychecks.

Listen up: Plants are living things and like some of the people we know, they will disappoint us. They will refuse to meet our expectations. As I will discover shortly when I venture outdoors, some of the more tender things I already planted (I know, I know, last frost date is Mother’s Day weekend), will have met their maker. In other words, some plants gonna die, or I should say, all plants gonna die sooner or later. It is a part of the circle of life. (Lion King, anyone?)

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes from garden-center goers.

I have 4 crape myrtles and none of them bloom. I’m here to buy another one. 

So you want 5 non-blooming crape myrtles? Okay. Let’s go pick out a pretty one.

I need a plant that stays 4’10” tall, is yellow and evergreen.

Amazingly, we generally find these “specific-plant-or-no-plant-folks” something that will work.

Do you make perennials that don’t lose their leaves and will bloom in winter?

I’ve yet to make a plant, which is why I’m counting days instead of money, but I can show you the silk department.

What do I do with the dead leaves from my perennial plants? Do I need to leave them there so the new leaves will come up?

Might as well. I haven’t cleaned up my garden in years. Sort of the case of the cobbler with no shoes, but hey, aside from the diseases and pests, everything is doing great.

If I buy 1 rose, will it split into 2?

That explains the roses that are popping up all over my yard. The darn things are splitting themselves in half when I’m not looking, and propagating everywhere.

Lastly, What is wrong with these plants. They keep dying. 

What can I say? Plants gonna die.

Plants Gonna Die, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

The mangled roots (poorly planted, roots should not look like that coming out of the ground, but that’s another blog), of a Japanese Magnolia, removed by Erica, our amazing grounds-keeper/designer. All I’ll say is, someone who knows better planted that. So sometimes, even the experts kill trees (or shrubs).

 

 

 

geranium in clay pot, stunning, transplanted and still blooming, cinthia milner

Garden Coach Tip: Permission to Skip Stunning

You can skip the stunning factor in your yard. Here’s why: We’re losing the ability to be charmed. And, we’re spending all our time worrying how we look to others.

I live in a brick rancher that sits at a four-way stop. It’s a modest 1300-square-foot house that has been beautifully taken care of by previous owners. Along the west side of the house is a white picket fence that separates the house from the neighborhood sidewalk. That’s where my garden is. I have roses and salvia and veronica on the house side of the fence. Sedums, donkey tail, Shasta daises, Siberian iris, echinacea, and dahlias are on the sidewalk side. Oh, and salvia ‘Hot Lips’ which is a fun, silly plant. I have one slightly stunning factor at the end of the fence line, a hibiscus, ‘Cranberry Crush,’ though, I am officially declaring it dead, disappointingly so. Not even a hint of green has made an appearance. Hugely upsetting for my small garden and our neighborhood. We’re in a dither about it. Hellebores and primroses make up the rest of the garden in the back under the cherry trees because they’ll grow there, and I like them.

My clients say, “Your garden must be stunning.” (They feel their garden should be stunning or it just won’t do. They’re worried it won’t be.) “No, my garden is not stunning,” I say. “I don’t have the time, energy, or money for stunning.”

My garden is charming, which I prefer. I believe the world needs more charm. I consider stunning over-rated.

Here’s the garden coach question for the day: Is the big stun factor for you? If so, go ahead. Is it for the neighbors? If so, skip it. If the neighbors need to be stunned, then let their dime do the stunning. Setting boundaries not only applies to your personal self, but also your garden.

Here’s my garden coach tip for the day: Plant what you like.

My  mother-in-law always had pots of geraniums. I used to tease her that only ladies over 60 could grow them (I’ve killed every geranium I ever tried to grow). She kept them in clay pots, in clay dirt, in her basement, all winter, with complete neglect. Then, come warm weather, she gathered them up, and lined them along the side porch, where the rain watered them, not her. They were stunning. She loved them. When I visited, she’d point them out and say, “Aren’t they stunning?”

Yes, they were. And, not a neighbor for miles could see them. They were stunning just for her.