Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Patron Saint of Lost Garden Causes

I stopped by the Kilbourn Park Organic Plant Sale today and as I was settling the bill, the cashier pointed out a forlorn group of plants. They had literally been kicked to the curb. There they sat, leggy and wilting, along the harsh sunny asphalt of the greenhouse driveway. She told me they were free for the taking and encouraged me to pick up a few. Sigh. I am not one to ever turn down a chance at plant redemption -- no matter how many bitter disappointments trail in my gardening wake.

Just moments before, I had been congratulating myself on my purchasing restraint. My garden is already bursting at the seams, and I still have many potted seedlings sitting around the patio. To further restrain myself, I had even arrived with just one $10 bill. I was careful in selecting a mere two herb plants -- anise hyssop and lovage. Both were herbs that I wanted to try out this year despite forgetting to purchase seed over the winter. Yet nothing quickens my pulse like the words "free plants" (except maybe "free seeds"). I inevitably looked over the sorry pots and found two that I didn't have the heart to abandon, a yarrow and some johnny-jump-ups. I love violas and am trying to get them to self-seed the whole northern edge of my backyard. The yarrow -- well, it looked horrible:

Yarrows are, however, such obliging plants, and do well in poor soil. After the harrowing ordeal of the porch reconstruction, my front bed is a mess of compacted, debris-laden dirt. Yarrow, peonies and poppies are my best bet at this point. I decided that a cutting-back and some gentle treatment might rescue this sorrowful specimen. If it dies, oh well! It was free. My husband just gave me a sad, unsurprised look as I came back to the car juggling an armful of pots. "Couldn't you have found more basil?" he sighed, eying the ferny, dying mess of the yarrow plant. This is what he gets for marrying the patron saint of lost garden causes. I pointed out that at least it is a cheap vice, unlike cigarettes or shoes.

1 comment:

  1. This made me laugh out loud. I've rescued many lost causes. I get freebies every so often from the nursery where I work a couple of days a week. A couple of years ago they gave me a plant that was labeled as lemon twist toad lily. It had one spindly stem, and struggled in the garden until this year. It didn't look like Lemon twist - the little foliage it had was solid green. It just started blooming, and it turns out to be Solomon's seal, not a toad lily. I like both plants, and since I didn't have Solomon's seal before, I'm pleased. I'm sure your forlorn yarrow will recover and be much happier in the ground than it was in the pot.