A dangerous combination

A lot of information, and too little self discipline can be a dangerous combination. I speak here, not of matters of grave importance, but of a barely controlled passion for adding new plantings to the garden, no matter that good sense should dictate delaying purchases until spring.

As daylight dwindles to just minutes following my daily return from the work that affords the garden’s extravagances, December evenings are occupied reading of plant explorations in Southeast Asia. Already impatient with a winter that has just begun, I am inspired and energized to do something. Anything. So on a mild weekend, I am transplanting to an area that is just a few feet beyond the borders of the property.

The property’s edge, just to my side of a small creek, is not well defined. It is unlikely anyone will know, or care about this minor encroachment, and my wife continually suggests that I beg neighbors to allow me to plant on their lots rather than cramming more onto this one. If the neighbor in the farmhouse far uphill should complain, I know where to point he finger. It’s her fault.

In the evening, filled with inspiration, I break from reading to explore websites offering out of the ordinary and often marginally cold hardy plants. The temptation is too great, so an order is formulated, with plans to push the button to give the go-ahead in another month, perhaps two. But this source ships first come, first served, and surely these treasures will be gone by March. And, it’s sixty degrees today, so ignoring that much colder days are forecast ahead, the order is placed with a nursery in the much warmer Carolinas.

Photo of Rhodoleia henryi from Nurseries Caroliniana (Nurcar.com) an excellent mail order source for out of the ordinary plants that I regularly scan for treasures.

Once in hand, I have few worries that exbucklandia, rhodoleia, and dendropanax will survive the winter, in the greenhouse or the basement, though delivery in the cold might be a bit risky. Planting in protected areas in April will give each of these tender and slightly tender evergreens a decent chance for survival a year from now. The first winter might require additional protection, but that effort is a small sacrifice.

Photo of Dendropanax from Nurseries Caroliniana Nurcar.com

And why bother with plants that are questionably cold hardy? My wife has an easy answer to this one, but please don’t listen to her questions about my sanity. There is, of course, a calculation in planting marginally cold hardy plants. I do not intend to toss money to the winter winds, but other tender plants are managed by protecting with baskets of leaves, or dug and brought into the small greenhouse. This garden is a hodgepodge of natives and plants from around the globe, and no other reason is necessary except this is what I like.

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Bonnie C. says:

    Please do not infringe on your neighbor’s property with your gardening, regardless of whether or not you feel they won’t notice or care. Such infringements can end up with property problems down the road. We have a neighbor who owns the road we live on, & even though we offered repeatedly to help them maintain it, they’ve politely declined due to legal issues that if we did so, down the road we could apparently claim partial ownership.

  2. nancy marie allen says:

    We lifelong gardeners are easily seduced by new plants. It seems like every year there’s at least one new specimen added to the yard and some years several. It’s an addiction for sure but at least it gets us outside in the fresh air and sunshine!

    1. Dave says:

      The new arrivals were delivered late in the evening. Fortunately, my wife noticed them so they did not sit outdoors through a twenty degree night. They were moved to the garage then potted this morning to spend the winter in the greenhouse.

  3. Mike Culver says:

    Re: the Mrs. and your sanity: read James Thurber’s “The Unicorn In The Garden.” I think you’ll both enjoy it.

    1. Dave says:

      Thank you. A great story.

  4. bittster says:

    Good to hear you were able to get that out of your system. I’m sure January and February will practically breeze by now, without even the thought of looking up a few more plants or coming close to clicking ‘proceed to checkout’.
    Your treasures sound like fun. Good luck!

    1. Dave says:

      Certainly this is only a temporary fix, but once we are into January I am satisfied with spring deliveries.

  5. sallysmom says:

    Please share what you are reading about plant exploration. I love that kind of book.

    1. Dave says:

      I am rereading Dan Hinkley’s ‘The Explorer’s Garden’, first Shrubs and Vines, then Perennials though I’ve pledged to read ‘Johnny Got His Gun’ again as my wife is winter cleaning old books.

  6. Lucy says:

    I had a Rhodoleia henryi, briefly. I’m in z 7B, Maryland’s coastal plain. I wish you better luck than I had. Pls keep us posted on what you do with it and how it fares!

    1. Dave says:

      I will attempt to site it in a sheltered, warm spot, but I will protect it if temperatures drop below ten degrees.

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