To avoid discouragement, the gardener must accept repeated failure. Despite best efforts, plants will be lost to cold or drought, to wind and ice, and occasionally to neglect. Others will suffer with circumstances less than ideal, showing meager growth, but managing to survive without too much concern by the gardener.
The non-gardener complains of his black thumb, but plants are lost in every garden. The gardener is distressed by losses, but not discouraged. Instead, he marvels at the successes.
To survey this garden, losses from three decades are barely evident, though the gardener is occasionally reminded of disappointments. Visitors, and perhaps readers, are likely to suspect that losses are rare, that the gardener has an innate skill that avoids common frustrations. Wrong again. If there is an attribute that keeps the gardener satisfied for decades, it is stubborn persistence.
No doubt, the gardener earns some credit for selecting the correct plant for a location, just as he kicks himself when neglect through a dry spell kills a freshly planted toad lily. In recent years, more plants than I care to admit have been lost to overly damp soils, and several treasures have been toppled by wind or ice. There seems no alternative but to press on, to plant again and know that joys will outnumber miseries.