1. RE: Azaleas and Hydrangas

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Nature Will Prevail In Spite Of Us
by Eleanor Tylbor
by Eleanor Tylbor


Eleanor Tylbor has been a freelance writer and columnist for more than twenty years. A resident of Laval, Quebec, Canada, she began her career as a columnist writing for weekly papers and continues to freelance a column covering local news for “The Chomedy News.”

She has also freelanced articles for Internet sites in addition to providing human-interest pieces for various dailies, and is a monthly contributor to the site, sharing her humorous observations and gardening-angst with gardening aficionados.

She is now into balcony gardening.

Blog The (Somewhat) Complete Gardener

November 24, 2002

If there's one certainty in gardening it's that nature will prevail. This principle was underlined recently after clearing the patio of snow, and discovering sprigs of fresh vegetation poking out between the tile blocks. To those of us who spend an inordinate amount of time and energy throughout the growing season focusing on weed control, this doesn't come as a surprise. Weeds are a tenacious lot and can survive just about anything thrown at them.

"Snow? Cold temperatures? We laugh in your face, silly gardeners!" they seem to taunt us.

For some reason we are convinced that our garden species require coddling and special winter protection, when the reality is that many of them could make it through without any human intervention. Difficult as it may be to accept, it's the truth.

For example my house is located on a corner lot where the sun shines on one side for a large portion of the day. The bed of iris's thriving here have the benefit of heat reflected off the red brick wall, and they have never experienced winter conditions in the five years they've been there. Spring is eternal in this small oasis and even when they do receive snow, they're able to sustain their life cycle until the snow melts and continue where they left off. It's truly inspirational to see a collection of green leaves sticking up above a snow-covered lawn. Like I said...nature will triumph over adversity.

The other side of the house is in the dark - both literally and figuratively. Protected from snow and winter conditions due to the roof overhang, many of the perennials in this bed exist in a kind of netherworld of suspended animation, due to the lack of sun. Somehow, the concept of producing flowers doesn't reach them, and they're big on producing stems and foliage. That's it...a collection of leaves and not much else. Logically, I should have replaced them with species that can tolerate this type of condition, but I just haven't got the heart to pull them out but that as they say, is another story. If there's anything to be learned here it's that nature will find a way around a problem to continue to exist.

A number of years ago Mr. He-who-is-not-a-gardener, always on the lookout for a bargain, bought what he believed to be a healthy rock garden cedar on sale, as a replacement for a rock garden plant that had gone on that great composter in the sky. It was coddled and received an inordinate amount of "TLC" that bordered on obsession, and in winter a burlap wrap shielded it from the elements. Given the amount of attention heaped upon it, one would expect that it would thrive and produce new branches. The Spring unwrapping that was eagerly anticipated all winter and conducted with lots of fanfare ("alright - here it is...wait for it!") revealed the cedar to be in the exact same condition as it was at time of planting. Neither did it produce one branch all summer, either. It was...there...never died mind you, but just...there. Feeling betrayed and let down Mr. He-who-is-not-a-gardener decided to eliminate the winter protection altogether, and let nature take its course as a means of punishment and betrayal of trust. Although there has been little progress in the growth department, the cedar has survived in spite of Mr. He-who-is-not-a-gardener's abandonment, or maybe as a result of allowing it to live in the way it knows best: on its own.

As a houseplant raiser I can testify to the hardiness of many plant types, and although we would like to believe that they are totally dependent upon us for their survival, the truth of the matter is they can go it alone. They may not thrive in the same way as when their leaves are sprayed and cleaned, or fed special plant vitamins, but they do manage to live.

As my neighbor, Kathleen, told me during a long distance call from the other side of the world, worrying about the flower beds: "they're doing well in spite of your absence."

That's easy for her to say.

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