One would think that years and years of practice would give one a certain amount of confidence in one’s hobbies, and that may be true, for instance, if one paints or photographs, or rides a bicycle cross-country, but when it comes to gardening, all I have found lately is surprise and uncertainty.
For an example, what will thrive where we live? We’re supposed to be in Zone 8 and there should be certain minimum to maximum heat and cold ranges. Right? Well, for the last two winters, we have had extraordinarily low temperatures, so it has been a pure wonder when anything came up and bloomed in the spring, since a lot of plants commonly grown around here don’t expect things to get that cold. Potted plants not only had to be brought inside but sometimes protected by an electric space heater. So then, one would think that really cold winters might indicate a shift to a cooler clime, and the summers would be milder. Wrong. Last summer was miserable and I spent a fair amount of time looking out the window at the garden wondering why I bothered with it all since we obviously couldn’t use the space for outdoor living.
This year, the summer has been even worse. Nearly everything is dormant or dead, such as the tuberoses, the purple coneflower, and even the coreopsis and the chrysanthemums. And don’t let’s mention the tomatoes. Except (thank goodness for that word, ‘except’) for the blessed crape myrtles and a tough shrub or two such as spirea, and the plants of delight, the bougainvillea, the ixoras and the plumbagos, tropical plants all. And all bought on whims at the garden center. They all live in pots, they all get taken in during the bitter part of the winter, but they all seem to thrive in the heat and humidity. Of course they are all carefully potted in large pots, and the pots are mulched. And they are hand-watered every other day or so, which is very therapeutic for me as well as the plants.
I’ve always maintained a tremendous amount of gratitude that we cannot know the future, so that I can enjoy planning to shoe-horn in some more narcissus bulbs, and imagine that next spring will be the best ever, and even hold on to the fantasy that the drought will end soon and the heat will moderate. Whether that spring will happen and my fantasy about rain will materialize – well, we don’t know, do we? Because we cannot know the future.