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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Try, Try, Try Again

Gardeners are eternal optimists. No matter what the weather throws at us, oil delivery trucks that drive through our flower beds or telephone pole installation crews stomping through our gardens, we persevere.

If a plant doesn't grow for me I take it as a personal challenge. Many times it's because I didn't research the plant well and put it in the wrong kind of conditions.

At my last house I tried Bergenia, I don't remember it doing anything special there. About 10 years ago I bought Bergenia again and planted it out front in one of my shade beds. It languished, still throwing up one or two leaves a year but never blooming. I've read about this plant thriving in other gardens but still walked past it every time I saw it for sale.

So what changed my mind this year? I've started to read the tags on the pots, not just scan them but really read them. By looking at all the information I saw that this plant was grown right here on Long Island out on the north fork. If it can grow there it should certainly be able to grow in my garden. So try, try again, this time with more sun, less tree roots and lots of nice rotted compost. By the way, the nick name of this plant is "Pig Squeek" and if you rub the leaves together they really do sound like a pig.

Podophyllum hexandrum are easier to remember as "May Apples". About 5 years ago I planted a pot of these in the wooded lot along the side of my house. It was a lousy spot, no water during dry spells, maple tree root competition and no sun what so ever when those Maples leafed out.

I decided to take out the small struggling pieces and move them to the back to my larger shade bed. Grow baby, grow!

Last year I did the same with a small piece of my Sanguinaria canadensis (double bloodroot). In one year it has increased more than the entire "clump" grew out front. I can't wait to see what's there next year now!

I'm off to rent a truck so I can go pick up pots and potting soil being donated for our plant sale. Since I've never driven a truck before I'd appreciate it if everybody decided not to drive on Long Island today. Thank you.


Frances, said...

Oh I was ready with my comment until I read your last sentence. HA Surely everybody on Long Island reads your blog and will follow your advice! You are doing exactly what a good gardener does, keep trying and doing more research. Hooray for your successes. We have the same bergenia and have already moved it once, to a better spot with a little more sun. The leaves look good, but if yours if already blooming, that doesn't bode well for mine having any flowers this year. Love that bloodroot!

Frances at Faire Garden

garden girl said...

I know the feeling! I admire your determination. I sometimes give up too easily, but in the last couple of years I've also found just moving a languishing plant to a different spot can make all the difference. I'm also more liberal with watering in our dry shade garden, and that makes a huge difference.

Nancy J. Bond said...

Persistence and patience...that's my gardening mantra. :) They are all interesting plants.

redrahde said...

Hi Melanie,

Thought I better check in just to let you know I'm still here. Actually, I'm here every day just to see what you're up to. I wouldn't miss it and I have learned a lot. The great photos are a tremendous help also--not only for learning about a plant, but for understanding a technique or point you are making.

Get some help unloading that truck. It's far too much for one person. Good luck on driving it! My husband bought a Titan last year and I haven't yet had the nerve to even drive it down the driveway. That thing is huge!

Dave said...

If at first you don't succeed right? Good luck driving your truck today! Those mayapples are really neat little plants. They are all over the forests down here in Tennessee.

Gail said...

I might have to try Bergenia, my husband will be crazy for its name...Pig Squeek. Maples are beautiful in the fall but they sure soak all the water out of the ground. I am a big fan of the map apple glad you moved it to happier will love it.


GardenJoy4Me said...

I have never driven a truck either melanie .. even when hubby offers his ! haha .. hope they all stay clear of you so you won't be stressed out girl !
Bergenia .. I have added some more to my little clump but some how I must have ticked it off this year .. it looks rather sad .. BIG sigh !
Good luck with the driving !

Lin in southern California said...

I agree, gardeners are optimists...have to be!

Hope the truck adventure went large of a truck was it? Dh has a standard size truck...essential, we've found, for a gardener/homeowner/dog owner. I do, sometimes, drive it but prefer smaller cars. (But then, when stopped in traffic, I'm looking at hub cabs...everyone else seems to have HUGE vehicles.)

Nikki said...

Thank you for the little glimpse of spring. I'm desperate for it out here on the west coast where it was snowing last weekend.

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

I have tried to grow brandywine tomatoes for the last thirty years. They always die in our summer heat. Guess what I am going to buy tomorrow? You bet, another doomed brandywine tomato plant.

Cinj said...

Sounds like me with my roses! Maybe someday I'll finally get it right. I have read two books on roses this year and learned a few new things. Unlike you I can never pass them by though. Well, I did for one year I guess....

LOL! Love the don't drive on Long Island.

rusty in miami said...

I know the feeling; here in Florida Begonias do well in the winter but the heat of the summer can be brutal. Every year I insist on have them year around and every July I end up with dead plants.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I've tried to grow Bergenia in 4 places in my garden, it has grown well in only 2. I was ready to throw it out before I moved it last year. Persistence (in a different spot) is definitely the way to go.

Melanie said...

Frances, they listened! There was very little traffic on the road while I was driving. I was tempted to put a sign on the back of the truck that said "don't bother honking, just go around".

Linda, that watering makes all the difference. Last year I know I neglected certain areas and it shows now.

Nancy, patience, that's something I could always use an extra helping of.

Pauline, I'm glad you like the pictures. They're the number one reason I enjoy blogging over the daylily robin. It's so much easier to get my point across with a photo plus I can post about any gardening topic and not feel guilty.

Dave, I laugh when I look at my single litte mayapple. Whole woods full? I wish!

Gail, if you get the bergenia you have to make it squeek!

Joy, you would have had your hands over your eyes if you were sitting in that passenger seat yesterday :-) Hmmm, I wonder, does Bergenia really do well for anybody?

Lin, it was an extra long cargo van. I still needed the step to get up and down (and I'm used to an SUV). The hardest part was not having a rear view mirror. I was afraid to change lanes and had to stick my head out the window to see if all was clear.

Nikki, I'm wishing real hard for warm weather to come your way.

Aunt Debbi, I think I need some brandywine tomatoes :-)

Cinj, it's roses with you shade plants with me. I keep losing things under my maple but I keep trying anyway.

Rusty, Florida does things so different from up here. You plant things in the fall that we plant in the spring and then you rip those plants out in the spring because of the heat. I expect we'll move south when we retire so I'll have that experience too some day.

Mr. McGregor's daughter, glad to hear that you finally won. This is the last time I'm trying with this plant (yeah sure, want to buy a bridge?)

Marie said...

Great photos :)