After being obsessed with plants for as long as I can remember, gardening is still full of mysteries. Thank goodness, because if I could explain everything that's happening out there, I'd get bored of it. Instead, every time a flower blooms for the first time I'm struck with awe, let alone when a shrub reverts, a hummingbird hovers, or nature, as she so often does, throws together a combination I never dreamed of.
New gardeners too often worry they're doing something wrong when a plant is dying or another has decided to romp through the beds more aggressively than they ever thought possible. Not your fault - the plants are simply fulfilling their genetic potential in sometimes surprising ways.
It's like when something goes wrong with some piece of technology and I'm sure I've screwed up (again), forgetting that if I just shut the thing down and turn it back on, it'll probably work just fine. Navigating cyberspace is an endless, unknowable conondrum for me, and I'm resigned to that. Try to extend that respect for complication to the garden - just think of all the intricate relationships between air, soil, sun, wind, cold, heat, moisture, micro-organisms, insects (seen and unseen), plants and people...and rest assured that even the most expert of gardeners are flying blind (or enamored by their own theories) more times that not. I love that no matter how much I study, consult experts, and dig in the dirt, I'll never really have much more than a glimpse of the deep and unknowable workings of the natural world.
And yet I'm fretting over the sad sight of Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy', the centerpiece tree in my garden, which is seriously declining after thriving for seven years. Last year it was fully leafed out with huge, burgundy heart-shaped leaves. Here's the sad remnants of that tree today. Now I know this redbud is considered the daphne of trees...it just up and dies...but why now, when it just got to the perfect size and shape? And what should I replace it with?
And then there's this mystery plant growing up in the succulent trough by my front door - it looks like a rock tulip? I never planted rock tulips there, and it's July, not April....the foliage is beautiful, and it's outcompeting everything else...at least part of this puzzle will be solved once it blooms, but I'll still have no idea how whatever-it-is got there...
Or how about this Oriental lily that's mutated to have a wide, flat stem? I believe such distortion is caused by a virus, kind of like with broken tulip patterning...although I'm probably guessing that, or maybe someone suggested it when they, too, were puzzling over this grotesque of the lily world. And why, out of the dozens and dozens of lilies in my garden, is it just this one that morphed into something so weird? Strange looking as it is, especially when it blooms, I love it for its most graphic representation of all that remains unknowable going on right outside my back door.