By ‘accident’, I don’t mean that how I garden is accidental. Oh, sure, I try very hard to learn from experience, to read gardening books and articles, to pay attention to the plants and the requirements and all that. The ‘accident’ comes in when I am unintentionally careless with beloved plants, and they are all beloved, and yet they survive anyway. Or when I am unintentionally careless and I lose one.
In a world full of pain and strife, one must not care overmuch about the loss of even a cherished plant, or any other thing, actually. But when a gardener is in the garden and realizes that through distraction or a combination of circumstances such as distraction, an unprecedented drought and perhaps a circumstance of personal illness, one simply manages to lose a particularly cherished plant one has had for a long time, it’s a sadness. A minor sadness, but a sadness, all the same.
Last summer was horrific in this part of the country. It was horrific in most of the country, actually. Storms and heat and fire and loss. And terrible events in too many parts of the world. Here, we had less than three inches of rain for the months of June, July and August, combined. And because our reservoirs were becoming depleted, we were on very strict watering allowance. Between soaker hoses and handwatering from our rain barrels until they ran dry, and mulch and very limited sprinkler use, we managed to keep everything going. Barely. And there were a few losses. The worst loss was a beautiful daylily named Cool It, white, fragrant, and ruffled, and so special to us. We had moved it with us when we came to this home and had grown it for several years. I kept intending to lift it and pot it and bring it to shade and closer attention. But there were other concerns in addition to the weather, and by the time I could focus on the daylily, it had disappeared. Sometimes daylilies, if they are very well established, will go dormant under stress of heat and drought and reappear. I hoped all winter that this would happen, feeling with careful fingers for any sign of existence. But it was gone. My beloved mate reminded me that it isn’t what we lost, it is what we still have, that is important. And this is, of course, true.
This year may be pretty tough, too. But at least we got some rain in the spring, not enough but some. And we grow really tough stuff for the most part. So we are working hard to hydrate and mulch and strengthen our cherished plants. But we learned a valuable lesson, something needful of reminding, to be vigilant. We must be vigilant about each other, about our cat, Max, and about our home and garden space. And about this world we share and those with whom we share it.
On the other hand, after much anguish, I think I have found a source for another Cool It, and it is promised to be sent to me in September. So I am left with both education about what is most important, and hope. Which is pretty much what gardening is all about. That and gambling.